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Library of 
Emory University 

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JUN 181953 









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HISTORY 



OF THE 





N Y S V 



BY 



CHARLES H WEYGANT 



NEWBl'RGH, N Y.: 
JllCRNAL PRINTING HOUSE. 

1877 



Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year !KT7, by 

CHARLES H. WEYCANT, 
In the Office of the Librarian of Congress at Washington. 



TO THE 



MEMORY 



GALLANT SOLDIERS 



124th REGIMENT, N Y S. VOLUNTEERS, 



WHO DIED 



IX THE SERVICE OF THEIR COUNTRY. 



THIS VOLT ME 



JS AFFECTIONATELY DEDICATED. 



CONTENTS. 



CHAPTER I. 

ORGANIZATION— COMPOSITION. 

The South rejoicing and the North alarmed, 11. — The President calls for 300,000 more men— Governor 
Morgan appoint* a Military Committee for Orange and Sullivan, 12.— Captain A. Van Home Ellis 
recommended for Colonel of Regiment to be raised in Orange County, 13. — Colonel E. declares that 
t'.ie Country needs and he wants fighting men. 14.— Military Committee increased — Efforts to deter 
men from enlisting, 15. — Organization completed and regiment ready for the field, 16. — Field and 
Staff, 17.— Drum corps. 18.— Companies "A." 19.— " F," 20.— '"D," 21.— " I," 22.— "C," 23.— "H," 
24. — " E." 25. — " K." 2ii. — " O." 27. — " B." 2s. — Non-commissioned staff, wagoners, and sutler, 29. 



CHAPTER II. 

AT GOSHEN— TRIP TO WASHINGTON— SOLDIER LIFE AT MINERS' HILL. 

Under marching orders — Presentation of Colors, 30. — Mustered into U. S. Service, 31. — From Goshen to 
Park Barracks, New York City, 32. — Armed with Austrian rifles — At Philadelphia and Baltimore, 33. 
— At Washington— Encamp on Arlington Heights, 34. — Camp Ellis — Attached to Piatt's Brigade of 
Whipple's Division, 35. — Our Generals and the regiments of our brigade — At Miners' Hill, 36. — 
Picket duty — Camp Cromwell, 37. — Personal experience as Brigade Officer of the Day, 38. — A rainy 
night in camp, 39. — Colonel Ellis; his true character as a soldier, 40-42. 



CHAPTER III. 

FROM MINERS' HILL TO FALMOUTH. 

Our last drill at Miners' Hill, 43. — Strike tents, 44. — Ordered to join the main army, 45. — At Knoxville, 
46. — Incorporated with the Army of the Potomac — Camping on the farm of a crusty " sesesh," 47.— 
At Burkettsville — Captain Travis shooting wild turkeys, 48.— South Mountain battle ground — Trad- 
ing a $50 mess chest for a pair of chickens, 49. — Cross the Potomac at Berlin, 50. — At Lovettsville 
and Hillsborough, 51. — Prepare for a fight that does not take place— At Bloomfield, Upperville, and 
Piedmont, 52. — A forced march to Manassas Gap— A night of terrible suffering, 53.— On the summit 
of a peak of the Blue Ridge, 54. — Our first skirmish — Sleeping under a blanket of snow— At Orleans, 
55. — Burnside releaves McClellan — Foraging — At Waterloo — A skirmish on the picket line, 56. — At 
Warrenton and Libertyville— Captain Clark shoots a man of First New York Volunteers, 57. — At 
Hartwood Church — Sleeping in the mud, 58. — Encamp near Falmouth — Reviewed by General 
Hooker, 59. — At General Piatt's Headquarters, 60. 



U- CONTENTS. 

CHAPTER TV 

AT FREDERICKSBURG. 

Fatal delay of Burnside's army, 61. — Move to Stafford Heights — Brave bridge builders, 62. — The bom- 
bardment of Fredericksburg, 63.— X'nder fire, 64. — Our contrabands demoralized — Jim Sailor's duck- 
ing, 65.— Jack Smith fails to keep his solemn promises — Regiment crosses the river, 66. — Prepare 
for a charge— General Piatt falls into a ditch— Return to the river, 67.— Recross the bridge and 
return to camping grounds at Falmouth, 68. 



CHAPTER V 

SOMETHING MORE ABOUT FREDERICKSBURG. 

The two grand armies, 69.— The opening of the battle — Companies E and F supporting a battery, 10.-- 
Disposing of Confederate sharpshooters — Three of our number wounded — Hail Columbia, 71. — 
Covering the retreat, 72. — Private Lancaster does "a little tall swimming" — A hundred men on the 
sick list— Ten of them die within a week, 73.— Jack Smith returns to duty, 74.— " I runn'd'away 
cause I didn't dar stay, and you staid cause you didn't dar runn'd away"— Sunday evening, 75.— 
A funeral procession, 76. — The sergeant's prayer. 77. 



CHAPTER VI. 

FOUR MONTHS AT FALMOUTH, 

New Years night on the picket line. 7K.— A grand review — Our new rifles. 7!).— What the old blunder 
busses did for us — Preparing for another advance, 80 — In the rain and sleet — Stuck fast in the mud, 
81.— "Come over with your big guns" — Jack Smith in trouble, 82. — A miscalculation — General 
Hooker in command, 83. — Change camp — A visit from the paymaster — Better rations, 84. — A brush 
on the picket line, 85. — Preparing for a grand inspection and review. 86. — Reviewed by President 
Lincoln— Mules demoralized. 87. — The regiment complimented. 88. 



CHAPTER VII 

• :hAi\cellorsville. 

Reviewed by General Hooker and Secretary Seward — Break camp— March to Bell Plains, 89. — Support- 
ing Sedgwick — General Hooker's order announcing the enemy's probable flight or certain destruc- 
tion, 90.— From Bell Plains on the left to the U. S. Ford on the right, 91.— List of our losses since 
entering the service— Absent without leave. 92, 93.— Absent sick and on furlough— With the supply 
train — In the ambulance and pioneer corps, 94. — Present for duty, 95-102. — Hooker outgenerals Lee. 
101. — Lee's advance repulsed — " Our giant has become a pigmy," 102. — Hooker's serious mistake, 103. 
—Charge and countercharge at night, 104. — Hooker on the defensive, 105. — Lee feeling the Union 
front while Stonewall Jackson hastens to the left — Sickles attacks Jackson's passing column, 106. — 
The 124th to the rescue — Falling back — The Eleventh corps routed, 107. — Sickles and Pleasanton 
check the enemy's advance and retake a portion of the ground lost by the Eleventh corps, 108. — 
A reconnoissance at night — Among the dead and dying, 109. — The enemy preparing to advance, 110. 
— A strange horseman — Advance of Ward's brigade, 111. — Was the strange horseman Stonewall 
Jackson ? 112.— Sickles ordered to fall back, 113.— Companies " A " and " F " left behind — The Con- 
federate advance — One hundred facing ten thousand, 114. — The battle opens — Caught between the 
lines, 115. — " Forward, my tulips " — " Let the little girls of old Orange hear a good report of this 
day's work," 116. — In the thickest of the fray— No one shows the white feather, 117.— The contest 
deepens — The ground strewn with our dead and wounded, 118.— Falling back — " For shame, I'll stay 
and fight it out alone," 119. — A counter charge, 120.— " The battle virtually at an end" — Fall of 
General Whipple, 121. — Building rifle-pits— Return to Falmouth, 122. — A general account of the 
battle. 123-127.— List of casualties, 127-129.— Colonel Ellis' report of the battle, 130-132. 



CONTENTS. IN- 

CH APTER VIII. 

AFTER CHANCELLORS VILLE— BEVERLY'S FOR]). 

Half our log huts roo'lyss— On picket, 133. — Captain Murray alive, 134. — Letter from Hon. C. H. Win- 
field, 135, 136.— Colonel Ellis' reply, 137. — Under marching orders, 138.— On the march, 139.— Counter- 
inarch and countermarch, 140. — Spottsville or Cropp's Tavern, 141. — A surprise, 142. — "The only 
husband I've got '" — At Bealton, 143. — Those unlaced shoes — Cross the Rappahannock, 144. — Scenes 
in the rear of contending battle lines, 145. — " Them ere little hissin divils " — General Ames—" Hold 
them at all hazards,"' 140. — Military usage — Lieutenant Houston wounded— My proper place, 147.— 
Confederates reconnoitering — " Steadily and rapidly forward they came." 148. — " Give thra hoots for 
the bully old Divil " — An almost hand to hand encounter, 149. — " Give them the steel, my honeys " — 
Our killed and wounded — Confederate dead left on the field, 150. — Extract from a letter written by 
Sergeant Hazen, 151. — Death of Private Miles Vance— List of casualties. 152. 153. 

CHAPTER IX. 

FROM THE RAPPAHANNOCK TO EJIMITTSBURG. 

Lee's army, 154. — Hooker's army, 155. — Concerning the battle of Beverly's Ford, 156-159.- The 124th 
attached to Ward's brigade of Birney's division — Our new brigadier, 160. — General D. B. Birney — 
Ellis resumes immediate command of regiment. 161. — Hurrying toward Washington — At Brentsville, 
Bristow Station, Manassas Junction, and Manassas Plains— The 15th Vermont, 162.— At Centreville 
and Gum Springs— Marching through mud and rain in total darkness. 163. — " Squat, my bull-frogs " 
— Borrowing fire- wood, 164. — On picket — That goose. 165. — Cheap meat — Cross the Potomac at 
Edwards' Ferry. 166. — Lieutenant Milner Brown. 167. — Passing through Frederick. 168.— From 
Frederick to Emmittsburg, 169. 



C B A P T E R X. 

GETTYSBURG. 

Losses by sunstroke and disease— Hooker relieved and Meade in command. 170.— ''The next battle is on 
the free soil of Old Pennsylvania, and Lee is whipped, no matter who commands us" — On a forced 
march for Gettysburg. 171.— On the field— In position, 172.— Awaiting the coming shock, 173.— The 
Sixth corps arrives— The Confederates advance. 174.— Battle line of the 124th (opposite page 174)— 
The opening battle-crash. 175.— Our bloody charge— The death of Major Cromwell, 176.— Lieutenant- 
Colonel Cummins wounded— Colonel Ellis killed — The enemy repulsed, 177.— Change of commanders 
from corps down to companies. 178.— The ground strewn with our dead and dying— Corporal James 
Scott, 179.— The brigade withdrawn, 180.— Praise from General Ward— Extracts from reports of 
Generals Lee and Meade, 181.— The Third corps hospital, 182.— The battle reopened, 183.— Charge of 
Pickett's division— 40,000 killed or wounded, 184.— The field after the battle, 185.— List of killed and 
wounded, 186.— Statement of Corporal James Scott. 187.— Statement of Noah Kimbark, 188, 189.— 
Sergeant Thomas Taft's account of his trip to " Dixie " and back, 190-194. 



CBAPTER XL 

FOLLOWING LEE BACK TO THE RAPPAHANNOCK— WAPPING HEIGHTS. 

Sedgwick moves after Lee, 195.— The Third corps follows the Sixth— At Mechanicstown — Pass through 
Frederick— Meet the Seventh New York Militia, 196.— Now and then— From Frederick to Millpoint, 
197. — Lieutenant H. P. Ramsdcll's report of his experience with the bodies of Ellis and Cromwell, 
198, 199.— Preparing for battle, 200. — The enemy across the Potomac, "bag and baggage " — Cooking 
over fires kindled by the enemy, 201. — The kind of men in the quartermaster's department, 202. — 
Quartermaster Travis tells of a grand charge he personally led against Jeff Stewart's cavalry, 203, 
204. — Pass over Antietam battle-field — Cross the Potomac at Harper's Ferry — At Hillsborough, 205. — 
Near the scene of our first skirmish, 206. — " Let my old brigade take the lead," 207. — " Hohenlinden" 
— Driving the Confederate skirmishers, 208. — Chaplain Barbour of the Sharpshooters trees a Confed- 
erate, 209.—" Move forward and clear that hill or I will send the 86th and 124th through your ranks 
to do it for you," 210. — Charge of Spinola and the Excelsior brigade, 211. — Prepare for a general 
battle which does not take place — Casualties, 212. — Picket duty on the Rappahannock, 213. 



j v _ CONTENTS', 

CHAPTER Xir. 

AT SULPHUR SPRINGS AND CULPEPPER-CEKTREVILLE CAMPAIGN 

Lo sses from death and discharge, 214 Captain — and other ' fl £^ «^£^ to ' Coll 
-Lieutenant-Colonel Cummin* returns tc - du£-A Sulpnu p ^ ^ ^ ^ M9 __ A 

pepper. 217.-A deserter^ dm.nn^ ^ ° * camp ~ - ^ P ^ ^^ ^ ^ ^ 223 . 

"bran new'' brigadier, 220.-rioubleon^mp to Centl . eville , 224 -226.-At Fairfax 

-Chaplain BradnerV account of or m«ch tron P^ mm , em ^ oo 7 .-Encamp near Cot- 



'bran new " brigadier, 220. 

in BradnerV account u, u~ —J — -- ^.^ moveme „t, 22 
Station-A ™^™ ^^* ^^ ^ t nncomfortable night, 229.-Near Bealton, 230. 
letfs Station— Fooling the cloctois, „n. 



CHAPTER XIII. 

KELLY'S FORD- LOCUST GROVE- --MINE Rl'N. 
lev eminent- on Oentreville campaign. 23L-From Bealton to Rappahannock River-Supporting 
"■i batterv '^2 - Bank of Rellv's Ford. 233. -Storming Confederate works at Rappahannock Station— 
Pe'dim-nt at" Kellysville. -J:-J4."— From Ivllysville to Brandy Station— Building winter quarters, 235.— 
Vn other advance ordered. 23ti.-Battk> of Locust Grove. 237. 23S.-Fighting in the woods after dark, 
23!!.— List of casualties sustjiined at Locust I irove. -,'H. -Facing the enemy at Mine Run. 241. 242.— 
Advancing again -t the enemy's works. 2-13. The order to assault countermanded— Poor Charley 
McGregor. 244. M an h hark to Brandy Station. 24."). -List of casualties. 24(i. 

CHAPTER X 1 V 

FIVE MONTHS AT URANDV STATION AND l'l LPEPPEK. 
eamp. 217 -Lieutenant Churlr- Stewart's diary for December. 2 IS. 219.- Strength of Regiment 

U ■ccmber 30 ISl.-i sei tint Thomas Tuffs diarv for January and part of February. 1NC4. 250.-Our 

ncwlia- 2.VJ General Butler tries to capture Richmond. 2.",3. Wading through the mud, 254- 
Picketing at the Thomas IF,,- .. 2.V,. - .lennie of the Pirkel Line- You are not the person. 25(..-Col- 
onel " Milloh •' That horrid . olond l.akoman. 2.7 The Misses Payne -Kilpatrick starts on a grand 
raid. -.'.v. M,e t the 14th Brooklyn at Culpepper .lames city, 259. sleeping in the water-Return 
„, Culpepper. y-i.-Urant made Lictonam General- Mis headquarters to he with the Army of the 
Potomac in the Field ■ Capl. .lack-on and others start home on recruiting service, ^.-Transferred 
to the Third Brigade- What Ihe oflicers of the 12llh Hunk about it. 2112. What Generals Birney and 
Ward think about the 12l.h. 2„3. Kcransfcrred to Ward's Hriga.le Camp l.ife,2.',l. Move Camp 
i.-.. Preparing for Spring Campaign. 2. ill- Gain* and Losses, 21., 21.11. 



iiiiilu servic 



CHAPTER XV 

ON TO RICHMOND IN THE W1LDFKN ESS. 
The Ariuv Reorganized- The •• Old Third " l.eeomes a pari of the Second Corps General Meade's Ad- 
dress. 27.. Cl.a.iecllorswlle Battle-Held, 2,1 272. The Wilderness, 273.-Generals Grant and Lee, 
271. - Make-up and strength of the opposing armies, 275 27ti. The Army of the Potomac Across 
the Rapidan- Meade s -Order of March," 27 7.— The Brock Road- -Meade's Army in motion, 278.— 
Opening of the Battle of the Wilderness, 27'.i.—Wadsuorths Division routed— Regiments compos- 
ing Ward's Brigade, 280. Changes in 121th and just who are present for duty, 281-285.— Advance 
of Hancock's column— The coolest reopened. 2SII.— General Mott calls for help— Our Division to 
the rescue. 2S7.— 12.110;) men lay dead and dying in the dismal woods— The 124th takes 32 prisoners, 
2SS,— In the midst of the Wilderness. 2S!I.— " Attack along the whole line at live o'clock "—Lee not 
yet ready— The 124th add to the list of their prisoner* captured from the foe, 290.— Colonel Cum- 
mins seriously wounded, 201. — Longstrcet's Advance against the Union left flank, 292. — Hancock's 
Veterans routed, 293. — The Fall of Uongstreet, 294. — "Ship Ahoy, Land Ahead," 295. — Hancock's 
line reformed — Lee assumes immediate command of his assaulting column, 296. — The Union breast" 
works on fire, 297'. — The Confederates repulsed with terrible slaughter, 298. — The two days' battle at 
an end, 299. — Each ready to receive battle, but neither minded to attack, 300. — List of our killed and 
wounded, 301, 302. 



CONTENTS. v 

CHAPTER XVI 

ON THROUGH THE V/ILDERNMSS— AT SPOTTSYLVAXIA COURT HOUSE. 
Grant resolves to push on through the Wilderness. 303. — " This little, chap from out West don't know 
when he is whipped," 304.— At Todd's Tavern— Pickets driven in. 305.— Fighting on the banks of Po 
River, 306.— A woman on the battle-field, 307'.— Skirmishing on the heights about Spottsylvania 
Court House, 308.— General Sedgwick killed— A formidable position— Forming for a grand assault, 
309.— "This is sheer madness"— The advance. 310.— The repulse, 311.— Hancock ordered to assault 
the enemy's right centre, 312.— Marching by jerks. 313.— Greeley's story of the charge, 314.— Coppee's 
account, 315. — What Lossing says, 316.— Swinton's comments on the battle, 317.— Hancock's weary 
troops in position, 318.— A foggy morning, 219.— •' Take your regiment over the works this time, or die 
in the attempt " — Forward, 330.— A bolting recruit. 321. — Over the works— A hand-to-hand encounter, 
322. — Capture of Johnston's Division and the Old Stonewall Brigade, 323. — In front of the enemy's 
second line, 324. — Forced back to main line — The 124th given position in the angle of death — They 
turn captured guns on the enemy, 325. — Carried to the rear by Confederate prisoners, 326-328. — 
Scenes at a half-way hospital— The flag of the 141st Pennsylvania Volunteers, 329. — Chaplain Joe 
Twitchell and Chaplain Acker — Our wounded officers, 330-332. — Capture of the battle-flag of the 
17th Louisiana by Archibald Freeman, 333. — Wierd scene at the field hospitals. 334. — On the road to 
Fredericksburg with the wounded, 335. — Meeting Colonel Cummins, 336. — At. Georgetown — The regi- 
ment reduced to 120 effective men, 337.— A charge by the 86th and 124th — Skirmishing, 338. — List of 
casualties, 339. 

CHAPTER XVII 

FROM SPOTTSYLVAXIA TO PETERSBURG. 
An unsuccessful assault — Preparing for another general movement, 340. — Fighting Evvell on the banks 
of the Ny, 341. — From Spottsylvania to Miiford Station— A reconnoisance under Colonel Eagan, 
342. — Storming the enemy's works at Chesterfield bridge, 343, 344. — Skirmishing on the southern shore 
of North Anna— Confronting the enemy at Tollopottomy Creek. 345.— Death of Captain Crist, 346.— 
On short rations — Lieutenant Stewart and six men captured by the enemy — Fighting at Cold Harbor, 
347, 348.— A change of base — Fighting in front of Petersburgh, 349. — Death of Captain Jackson, 
350. — Going into camp, 351. — List of casualties of regiment from May 18th to June 22d, 352. 



CHAPTER XVIII 

IN FRONT OF PETERSBURG— STRAWBERRY PLAINS— DEEP BOTTOM. 
From Newburgh to City Point. 353. — From City Point to the front, 354-351).— All that were left for 
duty of the Orange Blossoms. 357. — The month of July, 358.— New commanders of brigade and 
division — Ordered to Deep Bottom, 359. — Fighting on Strawberry Plains— Return to Petersburg lines, 
360. — The mine explosion, 361. — At City Point, 362. — Sailing up the James River on transports, 363. 
—Skirmishing at Deep Bottom — Captain Mapes loses a leg, 364.— Nail kegs from our gunboats, 365. 
— A lively time on the skirmish line, 366. — List of casualties, 367. 



CHAPTER XIX 

IN FRONT OF PETERSBURG— BATTLE OF BOYDTON ROAD. 
From Deep Bottom to Petersburg lines, 368.— Under fire— Riding under difficulties, .369.— Unhorsed— 
Why I did not sell my mare, 370. — An interesting letter, 371, 372.— Watching shells fall into Peters- 
burg, 373. — Promotions— Return of convalescents — A midnight assault on the enemy's pickets, 374. 
—Gallant conduct of Private George G. King— A burial scene, 375.— The paymaster's visit— concern- 
ing a body of recruits who did not reach the 124th, 376, 377.— Fighting on the Weldon railroad, 378. 
— Death of Lieutenant Birdsall. 379.— Hancock ordered to seize the Southside railroad. 380.— Cross- 
ing Hatcher's Run, 381.— Driving in enemy's pickets— Our battle line, 382.— Battle of Boydton Roads, 
383.— The 124th engaged, 384.— In the wrong ambulance, 385.— Wandering in the woods— Ashe devil, 
386.— Halt— That new hat, 387.— In the Union lines— Chaplain Harry Hopkins, 388.— Moving back to 
camp, 389.— In the hospital— Something more about the battle, 390.— List of casualties, 391. 



V'i. CONTENTS. 

CHAPTER IX 

REINFORCED-WELDON RAID-IN WINTER QUARTERS. 
Arrival of reinforcements-Recovering the body of Captain Finnegan, 392.-A batch oi ^ co ™™^° n ^ 
393.— Names of our recruits, 394, 395.— Changing camp— On court martial, 396.— V\ _nat 
122,870 rounds of ammunition, 397.-'- What was up," 398.-An account of the Weltton nuu y .. 
T. Shultz. 399-402.-Secretary of War awards Medal of Honor to Archibald Freeman-Matties oi 
Oranga County send sleeping Caps to every member of Regiment— A Note from F. A. Reevs, 4Ud.-^ 
January, 1865— Preparing for Spring Campaign, 404.— Advance across Hatcher's Run, 405.— boldie.r 
Life in midwinter. 400.— Lists of gains and losses. 407, 408. 

CHAPTER XXI 

FIGHTING AT MIDNIGHT— FALL OF PETERSBURG AND RICHMOND. 

u aittng for Orders. 4H'.I— Strength of Regiment March 24th, 1MII5— List of Officers present for duty, 410. 
—Opening of Spring Campaign— Fort steadman captured by Confederates and recaptured by Union- 
ist-. HI. — Driving in Enemy's Skirmisher-. 112. Kegiment s nt to reinforce troops engaged— At- 
tacked by i body of Confederates. 414.— Capture of Colonel I>. S. Troy of 59th Alabama, a battle 
ling, and a large number of prisoners. 115. 110. —Caring for wounded Confederate prisoners— 
Conversation with Oil. Troy. 417.— Grant's army moves against enemy '3 main lines about Peters- 
burg, lis. I.,-. . counter movement.-. 419. Sheridan repulsed at Five Forks — 124th Engaged — 
Lieutenant King wounded. 12 t s| u .ridan victoriou- at Five Forks. 421. — Bombarding the enemy's 
Works — A midniglit a--ault. 122. Captain Carmick killed and a considerable number wounded— 
Letter from Captain Carmick- mother. 12.3. lie-ult of midnight assault, 424.- The grand assault. 
125. —The fall of Kichmond. 127 12'. -I - lligbt from Petersburg— List of casualties. 430. 

CHAPTER XXII 

THF. I'l lislIT lint LAST F\i. ACF.MF.NT I.F.K SUHHENDFUS 

Confederates cone, n' rale at < ia-terfield Court House and retreat westward— A mis lerslootl order, 431. 

• The pursuit On a foraging expedition. 132 134- Overtake cnenn s nar guard at Sailors 
Creek. H.Y- 121th !•! the front general Motl wounded. 130. - A running light with enemy s rear 
guard, 137 The battle of Sailors' Creek, las List of euHiialties. 139. -The reason why we halted 
for a fow hours. 1 |o Sheridan extinguishes l.ee s la-t hope- of escape. 441. The surrender, 142. 

(Ml A I'TK \l X X J I I 

II"\||;\VA1U> F.ol'M) GKAN'li UKcKI'TIoN AT NFN'ISI KGll- MFSTICKKD OFT. 

Meade h army move- | m ek to liurkMillc .Iiineiiou, III. Tin' army learns of the assassination of Presi- 
dent Lincoln, 115 keturu to our old ramping gr ids mar Miners Hill- The grand review. 

•Mi'., leturn to orange Count.* Our reccplion at Newluirgh .Judge Taylor's speech— Mustered 
out. 117 152. 



HISTORY 



OF THE 



124™ NEW YORK VOLUNTEERS. 



IXTKODT7 CTION. 



DURING- the month of June, 1865, the writer had the honor 
of conducting from the field and disbanding at Washington's 
Head-quarters in Newburgh, a little band of battle-scarred vet- 
erans, the remnant of as brave and noble a regiment as the late 
war produced. 

When the mighty work, to assist in which they had, nearly 
three years before entered the service of their country, had finally 
been accomplished ; after the Great Rebellion had been crushed 
out, and the vile institution of slavery out of which it had grown 
had been effectually destroyed ; and the anxiously-looked-for 
word came out from the National Capital, near which they were 
encamped, to these sons of Orange County, that their reunited 
country had no further need of their services — a long, glad shout 
went up from every throat, so loud and strong it seemed to shake 
the very ground on which they stood. 

And then there came an almost universal wish — which grew 
daily stronger as the intervening time went slowly by — to be 
mustered out at Newburgh, where the bulk of Washington's Con- 
tinental army had been disbanded — on the very hill-side where 
the honored ancestors of not a few of them had, nearly a century 
before, after the successful ending of their seven years' struggle 
for the independence of their country, assembled to listen to the 
reading of the Farewell Address of their loved chief. 



8 HISTORY OF THE 124TH NEW YORK VOLUNTEERS. 

And when at length the time for their final separation had 
arrived, and they stood drawn up in column for the last time as 
an organized bod}' of Union soldiers, on ground made sacred by 
the foot-prints of the Father of their Country and of so many of that- 
noble band of patriots who fought so long and hard to establish 
the glorious Union, for the preservation of which they had sacri- 
ficed, suffered, and accomplished so much — listening, with the vast 
multitude which had assembled to do them honor, to a most patri- 
otic speech of welcome filled with words of general praise — a man 
in the ranks was heard to whisper, " That's good, that's good ; but 
I wish he could tell to some of these weeping ones who have been 
following us all along the line of march through the city — wistfully 
scanning our faces as if searching for some one they must know 
can't be with us — how nobly their loved ones fought, and just 
when and where they fell, and how they died." 

This thought, whispered by one, was undoubtedly the earnest 
wish of all. And when the writer came to shake hands and bid 
adieu to one after another of these men with whom he had for 
three long eventful years been so closely associated, he promised 
over and over again, that if his life were spared he would see to it 
that a history of the regiment was written, in which not only the 
sufferings and deeds of its noble dead, but of its surviving 
members, should be duly and truthfully recorded.. 

Ten years since then have passed away, and no able and 
experienced hand having been found willing to undertake a work 
requiring so much time and labor — which being necessarily of 
but local interest, promises but small remuneration — the task seems 
to have settled down on him who promised so faithfully to see the 
good work done. 

It has not, however, been undertaken without many misgiv- 
ings as to his ability to do simple justice to so good a subject. 

The work will undoubtedly contain many defects, directly 
traceable to the author's inexperience, and consequent lack of 
ability as a writer. 

Having thus at the outset called attention to what he con- 
cedes to be his weak points, it will perhaps be well for the 



INTRODUCTION. 9 

encouragement of the reader to state, that he professes to be 
strong not only in quality and quantity of material on hand, but in 
a personal knowledge of the facts with which he deals. 

He had been connected with the regiment from its organiza- 
tion, and had witnessed the patient endurance and gallant deeds 
of its members throughout many a long and dreary march, and 
on more than a score of battle-fields ; had been with them at 
Chancellorsville that dark day on which two-fifths of the regiment 
were either killed or wounded, and at Gettysburgh, where, after 
their first and ablest commander had fallen to rise no more, their 
Lieutenant-Colonel had been carried wounded from their sight, 
and their loved Major lay lifeless at their feet, it had been his priv- 
ilege and duty to conduct thein through the remaining scenes, in 
which they played a part, of that great battle. 

Had seen their valor tested in the gloomy Wilderness, where, 
at the opening of the second day's fight, their second commander, 
in the last of his many battles, was wounded almost unto death ; 
and his again became the duty to assume command. 

Had led them through that and the following battles up to 
and over the rebel works in the famous charge of Spottsylvania, 
where, though again the ground over which they passed was left 
almost covered with their dead and wounded, the survivors 
pressed on until they had captured a battery of rebel guns and 
taken twice their number in prisoners from the foe, whose flag 
the)' trailed beneath their own ; and had been their commander 
in all that long series of movements, skirmishes, and battles about 
Petersburg, which began July 4, 1864, and ended in the sur- 
render of the great rebel chief, with the famous army of North- 
ern Virginia, at Appomattox Court-house, on the 9th of June, 
loG5 — only three days before which, in the last grand effort of 
Lee's hourly wasting force to beat back Grant's advance, they 
added (he last twenty honored names to their long list of killed 
and wounded on the field of battle. 

The majority of regimental histories which have come under 
the notice of the writer, have been written by non-combatants, 
whose points of observation have invariably been fixed beyond 



10 HISTOEY OF THE 124TH NEW YOKE VOLUNTEERS. 

the range of shot and shell — sometimes within sight of the smoke 
of battle, but not unfrequently out of hearing of the largest guns. 

This work, on the contrary, is written by one who " has been 
himself a part of what he tells," and from a stand-point which is 
seldom removed out of sight of the regimental colors, and is not 
unfrequently fixed under the smoke, amid the iron and leaden 
hail and fire and heat of battle. 

It is the purpose of the writer to show just where each man 
was. and what he did and suffered, in every general engagement, 
and tn enable the reader to trace every individual member from 
the time lie joins the regiment until he leaves it again, or the 
organization i- dissolved. 

It is nut claimed that every noble and ignoble deed of every 
man \va> seen and lmtod. but there will lie found in the recorded 
career of nearlv everv one some special personal act or experience 
which stand- nut in hold relief and marks his individuality 

Chas. H. Weygant. 

Ni.w laitiiii. Ni.w VniiK. .lulv :;o, 1875. 



ORGANIZATION— COMPOSITION. H 



CHAPTER I. 

ORGANIZATION COMPOSITION. 

OUR great civil war had been raging for over a year. The 
victorious rebel armies, having just hurled Banks' corps 
from the Shenandoah, and driven McClellan with his grand army 
from the Peninsula, were threatening an invasion of the North. 

The people of the South, mad with joy over the success which 
had thus far attended their unholy undertaking, and firmly believ- 
ing the Union had already been wounded beyond hope of recovery, 
were holding high carnival throughout the length and breadth 
of the Confederacy 

At the North, the patriotic enthusiasm which for months after 
the war began had so animated the people that volunteers 
rushed to the front faster than the Government could arm and 
equip them, had at length, by reason of the long series of terrible 
sanguinary disasters which had befallen the Union arms, given way 
to a spirit of gloomy depression. 

Thousands of loyal hearts were beginning to experience a 
profound distrust of the Government in the conduct of the war. 
Copperheads and traitors who had hitherto found it unsafe to 
give utterance to their treasonable thoughts, save in secret con- 
claves, were permitted to shout aloud their joy over news of 
Confederate victories, and to laugh and scoff at their country's 
agony, in public places. Lovers of liberty all over the land were 
looking forward with painful forebodings of greater evils yet to 
come, and not a few, in whom hope had been stifled by despair, 
believed the hour of dissolution was close at hand, and expected 
soon to hear sounded the death-knell of the Union. 

Five hundred thousand sons of the North had already taken 
the field, and six hundred million dollars had been expended to 



12 HISTORY OF THE 124TII NEW YORK VOLUNTEERS. 

crush the hydra, treason.- Battle after battle had been fought, 
and the life-blood of thousands upon thousands of the best and 
bravest had ebbed away on Southern battle-fields ; and yet, to the 
oft-repeated question, What has been accomplished ? there came 
but this one answer, Virtually nothing. 

The territorial limits of the Confederacy, it is true, had been 
somewhat reduced ; but the spirit of secession was more rampant, 
and the rebellion presented a bolder front than ever. 

At this critical period, and under these depi'essing circum- 
stances, eighteen loyal governors united in a letter to the Presi- 
dent, beseeching him without delay to make through them an 
urgent appeal to the waning patriotism of the people for vet 
another mighty army of Volunteers ; and the good Lincoln — at last 
fully aware of the magnitude and real intent of the rebellion, and 
alarmed for the safety of the nation — forthwith issued, in response 
to this letter, his call for three hundred thousand three tjetir* men. 

The President's call was dated July 1, 18G2, and on the fol- 
lowing day Governor Morgan made his famous touching appeal to 
" each citizen " of the State of New York. But for a time the 
people turned a deaf ear to the call of their President and the cry 
of their Governor, or answered only by asking the question. 
What has the vast outlay of blood and treasure, already made, 
accomplished ? 

The work of prepai'ation, nevertheless, on the part of the 
State authorities, was pushed forward with the utmost despatch, 
and Governor Morgan ceased not, day or night, in his efforts to 
re-arouse his people. The State was divided into military dis- 
tricts, in each of which a place of rendezvous was designated, 
and a committee of loyal and influential citizens appointed to 
superintend the work of enlistment, and to select and recommend 
suitable persons to command the regiments to be raised. Special 
appeals were made to nearly every town and county board, and 
circulars of instruction were sent broadcast over the State. 

The military committee appointed by "his excellency for the 
district comprising the counties of Orange and Sullivan, was 
composed of the following named gentlemen : 



ORGANIZATION— COMPOSITION. 13 

Hon. Robert Denniston, of Blooming Grove. 

Hon. Ambrose S. Murray, of Goshen. 

Hugh S. Bull, Esq., of Montgomery. 

Alexander Moore, Esq., of Washingtonville. 

Alfred Post, Esq., of Newburgh. 

James M. Barrett, Esq., of Cornwall. 

Morgan Shuit, Esq., of Monroe 

On the 11th of July this committee held its first regular 
meeting at the United States Hotel in Newburgh, at which they 
wisely decided to recommend Captain A. Van Home Ellis, of New 
Windsor, for the colonelcy of a regiment it was proposed to 
attempt to raise in the county of Orange. 

Captain Ellis was then in the service. His company — com- 
posed principally of men from Newburgh, who had served under 
him in the 71st New York State Militia at Bull Run — had, a few 
weeks before, been called together at less than twenty-four hours' 
notice, for a second term of active service, and were then stationed 
in the fortifications near Washington. A kind of active service for 
which their immediate commander had not the slightest relish. 

The captain was at the time temporarily home on business, 
and, on being notified of the action of the committee, promptly 
signified his willingness to accept the proffered position, and 
within an hour thereafter had telegraphed his resignation as captain 
to the commander of his regiment, at Washington, and was on his 
Avay to Albany for instructions and the necessary credentials. 
Arriving at the State House he found every door wide open, and 
kindred spirits there to receive him ; and, untrammelled by the 
red tape which in former and after years would have delayed 
him, he was enabled, ten minutes after he stepped in the main 
entrance, to walk out again fully equipped for the work he had 
on hand. And that same evening he was not only at, but hard 
at work in his new field of action. 

At five o'clock the following morning — for men in those days 
retired late, slept but little, and rose early — the writer was met 
by him in the street with, "Ah, ha, old fellow, you are just the 
man I'm looking for ; if there is any fight left in you — and I 



14 HISTORY OP THE 124TH NEW YORK VOLUNTEERS. 

think there is — lend us a hand, ' lend us a hand,' and raise us a 
company " 

It was understood by all that there was stern work ahead ; 
and that Ellis' was to be a fighting regiment. 

Said the " Newburgh Journal " of the time, and truthfully : 
" Colonel Ellis is a man who believes the soldier's business is to 
do as much damage to the enemy as possible ; and those who 
enlist under him may expect to be taken into active service, and 
not left to vegetate in the useful, but inglorious work of guard- 
ing posts remote from the scene of danger." 

A letter from a member of his old company, written to the 
Editor of the " Newburgh Telegraph;" just after word had reached 
them of their captain's selection for a larger command, says : " We 
all concur in saying that the military committee could 

not have chosen a better man — a braver or more efficient officer, as 
commander of the new regiment from Orange County, than Colonel 
A. Van Home Ellis. . One thing we feel assured of, he will never 
disgrace himself, or those under him, by a mean or cowardly act. 1 ' 

Said the Colonel to those whom he asked to assist him : " I 
want, for subordinate officers, men who will not only be able in 
pushing forward the organization, but most likely to render efficient 
services at the front — for those who follow me to the field may 
rest assured they will never, if I can prevent it, have reason to 
complain of being kept in the rear. A regiment of men is one 
thing. A regiment of fighting men is another thing. The country 
needs, and I want, the latter." From the very start Colonel 
Ellis put forth his best efforts, devoting day and night to the 
work he had in hand ; and in less than a week recruiting offices 
were opened in nearly every town in the county, and upwards 
of thirty persons, mostly of his own selection, had been authorized 
to recruit for the regiment. 

But day after day slipped by without any apparent results. 
No one volunteered. 

The enlistment committee was increased in numbers,* and 

* The Governor, in appointing Ins Committee for this district, empowered them to 
pdd to their number whenever and to such extent as they deemed best. Prior to July 



ORGANIZATION— COMPOSITION. 15 

met almost daily. But the rolls of the regiment remained blank, 
or nearly so. 

On the 1st day of August but eight men had been enrolled ; and 
the prospect of raising a regiment was anything but encouraging. 

Ellis, and the young men who had rallied round him, were 
doing the very best they could, but obstacles almost insurmount- 
able met", them at every turn. 

No sooner did a man make known his determination to enlist 
than he was approached in some direct, or indirect, way by an 
enemy of his country, not unfrequently in the person of his nearest 
neighbor and personal friend. 

If a married man of moderate means, the picture of his suffer- 
ing family — after he should have left them — was painted in the 
most vivid colors. Remember, they would say, it is for three 
years. Who will supply the wife and little ones with the where- 
with-all to keep the wolf from the door, when the few dollars you 
may be able to leave with them are gone. (It must be remem- 
bered this was before the days of the big bounties). And the 
thirteen dollars per month, and that paid you at irregular inter- 
vals — as those who have been in the service can tell you — why, 
what can you save for them out of that ? simply nothing ! 

And should you ever return, the chances are you will be a 
poor miserable cripple — a burden, the support of which will drive 
your loved wife to your neighbor's wash-tub, or your children to 
the street for bread. 

23d the following named gentlemen from Orange County had been added to the Com- 
mittee. Some of these gentlemen were already, and most of the others subsequently 
became, active workers in the good cause. 

E. A. Brewster, of Newburgh. Chas. J. St. John, of Port Jervis. 

William Fullerton, of Newburgh. John Conkling, of Port Jervis. 

C. H. Winfield, of Goshen. Orville J. Brown, of Port Jervis. 

Thomas Edsall, of Goshen. C. M. Lawrence, of Port Jervis. 

Silas Horton, of Goshen. C. B. Newkirk, of Monroe. 

James Cromwell, of Cornwall. A. S. Dodge, of Mount Hope. 

William Avery, of Cornwall. Dorastus Brown, of Greenville. 

Daniel Thompson, of Crawford. A. F. Schofield, of Montgomery. 

C. C. McQuoid, of Wallkill. A. G. Owen, of Blooming Grove. 

Halstead Sweet, of Wallkill. John Cowdrey, of Warwick. 

John G. Wilkin, of Wallkill. Thomas Welling, of Warwick, 

John Cummings, of Wallkill. 



16 HISTORY OF THE 124TH NEW YOKE VOLUNTEERS. 

If a man of means, or one without family depending on him 
for support, arguments almost as strong were used to dissuade him. 

But this state of things did not long continue. The mighty 
hosts of the foe were set in motion toward the fertile North, intent 
on making good their threat of invasion. 

Daily the necessities of the Government became more and 
more imperative, and at last the theory of prosecuting the war in 
strict accordance with the Constitution was acknowledged to be 
a failure, and abandoned. Summary measures were taken for trie 
silencing of those who were discouraging enlistments, and Fort 
Lafayette was speedily filled with Northern traitors. Then, and 
not till then, did the people shake off their lethargy and re-enact 
the grand spectacle first produced by the bombardment of Fort 
Sumpter. 

Public meetings were held almost nightly in every hall, church, 
and school-house in the State. Private bounties* were offered, 
and funds began to be raised for the support of the needy families 
of those who should volunteer. 

The National Capital was once more in danger. The Govern- 
ment was in earnest, and again the sons of freedom sprang to arms, 
and loud and long went up the shout, " We're coming, Father 
Abraham, three hundred thousand more." 

Up to the 8th of August, not more than a score of volunteers 
had reported at Colonel Ellis' head-quarters in Goshen. Fifteen 
days later the regiment was fully organized and ready for the field. 

In the following complete list of the members of the regi- 
ment at its organization, the names have been arranged with a 
view to enable the reader to determine at a glance the relative 
position each person originally occupied. 

The battalion is supposed to be moving in column of companies. 
The Lieutenant-Colonel, Major, Adjutant, and Sergeant-Major are 
placed in front and rear, instead of in their proper places on the 
flank of the column, in order that the field, staff, and non-commis- 
sioned staff, may be shown in complete, as well as distinct, bodies. 

* See Appendix, Note 2. 



HISTORY OF THE 124TH NEW YORK VOLUNTEERS. 17 




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JOHN H. THOMPSON, 




Major and Surgeon. 




T. SCOTT BRADXER, 



< 





Captain and Chaplain. 



AUGUSTUS DENNISTON, 

Lieu-tenant and Quartermaster. 




J. DE PEYSTER ARDEN, 

Lieutenant and Adjutant. 




EDWARD MARSHALL, 




Lieutenant and Asst. Surgeon. 



R. V. K. MOXTFORT, 



Lieut, and 2d Asst. Surgeon. 



Field. — The field-officers had all, since the Rebellion began, done honorable mili- 
tary service in the Union army, and one of their number, Lieutenant-Colonel Cummins, 
had served as a commissioned officer in the war of the United States with Mexico. 
As to their qualifications for the responsible positions they had now assumed, the 
reader who is not already acquainted with their antecedents, or has not followed them 
with weary limbs and blistered feet on the long and rapid march, over hard and dusty 
roads, beneath a scorching July sun — or plodded after them from early morn till late 
at night through Virginia's slimy mud and November's chilling rain and sleet and 
snow — nor yet heard their shrill shouts of " Forward, men ! forward ! " from amid the 
smoke of battle, may, I trust, be able to draw a not incorrect estimate from the follow- 
ing record of the services of the gallant regiment they were about to conduct to the 
front, and such other interesting facts concerning their former histories as the writer 
has been able to collect, and will, at the proper time, endeavor truthfully to present. 

Staff. — Surgeon Thompson was a resident of the village of Goshen, in the vicinity 
of which he had for a number of years successfully practised the profession of surgeon 
and physician. 

Chaplain Bradner, also a resident of Goshen, was a Presbyterian minister of good 
standing. 



18 ORGANIZATION COMPOSITION. 

William B. Wood, of " A ''—Bugler. 
Moses P. Boss, of " A " — Bugler. 

John G. Buckley,, .of "H"— Fife. .Chas. W Bodle,. ..of " A " -Drum. 

Chas. Whitehead,, .of "H "— Fife. . .Henry M. Cannon,, .of "A "—Drum. 



o Arthur Haigh,.. .of"H" — Fife. William Hamilton,. of " B "—Drum. 

< 

p t Geo. W Dimmick,.. .of"D" — Fife. .Henry Hoofman, . .of "C"— Drum. 

Ph 

Henry C. Payne,. ..of "B" — Fife. C. Van Gordon, ..of "G"— Drum. 



^ Robert L. Travis, of " F " — Drum. . . .Jehue Price, of " F " — Drum. 

I 

A. J. Millspaugh,. of "K" — Drum. .J. M. Merritt,. .of "G" — Drum. 

Geo. W. Camfield, of " K " — Drum. W Johnston,. .of "D" — Drum. 



John N. Cole,. 



.of "I" — Drum. .James McElroy, 



.of "D"— Drum. 



R. D. Stephens,. ..of " E "—Drum. . . Saml. M. Wef.den, of " D " — B. Drum. 

Quartermaster Denniston— a son of Hon. Judge Denniston, ex-State Comptroller — 
was a young man of sterling worth. He resided with his father in the town of Bloom- 
ing Grove. 

Adjutant Arden was not a resident of the county, and did not join the regiment 
until after its arrival at Washington ; that position, during the organization of the 
battalion at Goshen, having been most satisfactorily filled by William Silliman, who, 
on the completion of the regiment, became captain, of Company " C." Arden was, 
however, a glorious good fellow, and during his short stay with us made many warm 
friends. 

Dr. Marshal], also a non-resident, did not join the regiment until after it had taken 
the field, and remained with it but a short time. 

Dr. Montfort was a practising physician, residing at Newburgli. He was an ener- 
getic young man, of unimpeachable habits and character, highly esteemed by all 
classes of the community. 



Drum-Major Hart had been the successful leader of a noted regimental band. He 
did not enlist in the regiment, but was employed for a time by Colonel Ellis, who. so 
far as I can learn, paid for his services from Ms own well-filled private purse. 



HISTORY OF THE 124TH NEW YORK VOLUNTEERS. 



19 



H 

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H 



1st Sergt. John C. Wood. 
Corp. Charles A. Avery. 
Corp. O. H. Whitney. 
William H. Campbell. 
Samuel Yeomans. 
William Odell. 
Robert Potter. 
William Carpenter. 
George W Edwards. 
Charles \V Callow. 
Charles McVay. 
George Sering. 
L. L. Jackson. 
John W. Swim, 
Robert C. Hunt. 
John H. Dingee. 
John W. Taylor. 
Corp. Thomas Hart. 
Corp. Joseph Davey. 
Corp. Benj. Z. Bo wen. 
Corp. Chauncey B. Jones. 
Samuel Potter. 
Richard Rollings. 
Ephraim Stephens. 
Henry Arcularius. 
Jabez Odell. 
Jacob Lent 
Benjamin Lancaster. 
Joseph L. Simpson. 
Charles H. Valentine. 
Enos Jenkins. 
William McQuoid. 
John H. Jndson. 
James McGrath. 
Theodore Smith. 
Corp. Abram Bellows. 
Corp. Jonathan Birdsall. 



Sergt. Peter L. Wood. 



1st Lieut. Chas. B. Wood 



James G. Ciles. 

John Lewis. 

Joseph Johnson. 

Thomas Lewis. 

Joseph Brownley. 

John Robinson. 

Wesley Morgan. 

Newton Gotchieus. 

F. B. Gallow. 

James Jones. 

Hugh Topping. 

Edward Rice. 

Robert A. Ashman. 

Isaac L. Conklin. 

Samuel L. Conklin. Sergt. Peter Rose. 

Daniel Ackerman. 

Abram Hyatt. 

Patrick Flannery. 

Samuel Clark. 

Thomas Kelley. 

Calvin C. Lutes. Sergt. James McCollum. 

William Meyers. 

Jacob Wilson. 

John H. Warford. 

John Polhamus. 

Allen Owen. 

Jeremiah Hartnett. 2d Lieut. Chas. T. Crissey. 

Frank Rhinefield. 

Joseph Gardner. 

Gilbert D. W Roat. 

John H. Conklin. 

Daniel Morgan. 



Michael Hager. 
William Saunders. 
Hirvey Kimball. 



Sergt. Samuel T. Rollings. 



Company "A" — recruited by C. H. Weygant, of Newburgh, andC. B. Wood, of Ches- 
ter — was made up of men from nearly every town in the county, Newburgh and Corn- 
wall furnishing about half the number. John C. Wood, of Newburgh, was the first 
man to volunteer as a private soldier in the proposed organization. He was enrolled 
for this company on the 18th day of July, and for a number of days constituted the 
rank and file of the regiment. On the 12th of August the company had reached its 
minimum, and its officers mustering from that date, became the seniors of their 
respective grades, and secured for their company the right of the line. 



20 



ORGANIZATION — COMPOSITION. 



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1st Sergt. L. E. Elston. 
Corp. Charles H. Hull. 
Corp. M. Rensler. 
Nathan Hershler. 
Levi Cartright. 
Sanford L. Gordon. 
James H. Taylor. 
J. S. Crawford. 
John Van Houten. 
George W Tompkins. 
Judson P Adams. 
William V C. Carmer. 
Josiah Garrison. 
J. J. Harrigan. 
T. R. Allington. 
C. B. Anderson. 
H. R. Broadhead 

E. H. Garrison. 
Corp. S. S. Crawford. 
Corp. Win. W Decker. 
Corp J. L. Kalbfuss. 
Corp. O. U. Knapp. 

P A. F Hanaka. 
B. L. Tompkins. 
William 0. Van Sickle. 
Lewis Williams. 
Lewis D. Adams. 
John T. Fisher. 
J. Terwilliger. 

F. H. Rossman. 
Charles lioberty. 
Jeremiah Sisco. 
David Titswoith. 
H. B. Appleman. 
Barney F Kean. 
Philip M. Ogg. 
W H. Schofield. 
J. Cunningham. 
Corp. Charles Peters. 
Corp. W H. Patterson. 



A. T. Drake. 
Reuben Doty. 
A. J. Mesler. 
M. W Quick. 
Ira Wilcox. 
J. Z. Drake. 
James Comey. 
William Balmos. 
Jacob Garrison, 
W H. H. Hunt. 
A. J. McCarty. 
James J. Baker. 
Floyd S. Goble. 
J. C. Magee. 
Ransom Wilcox. 
Nelson Dunlap. 
James Carty. 
I. G. Gillson. 
G. H. Langton. 
Thomas B. Peck. 
R. L. White. 
J. M. Young. 

E. Coddington. 
W S. Cook. 

A. S. Barkley. 
G. W Adams. 
A. W Quick. 
Charles P. Kirk. 
C. A. Elston. 
J. N. Ilazen. 
Ira Gordon. 
Job M. Snell. 
William Boyst. 
George Garrett. 
Edward Sharp. 

F. Bundle. 

T. H. Jefrey. 
John G. Ogg. 



Sergt. E. M. B. Peck 



1st. Lieut. Thos. J. Quick. 



Sergt. John D. Drake. 



Sergt. A. P. Francisco. 



2d Lieut. S. W Hotchkiss. 



Sergt. Horace Hammond. 



Company " F " was recruited by Ira S. Bush, and was organized at Port Jervis. Its 
officers, and nearly all its men, were residents of the town of Deerpark. On the 20tb 
of August it arrived at Goshen with full ranks, and after each of its members had 
been divested of his wearing apparel, and caused to walk on his hands, jump straight 
up, so that his feet were at least five feet from the floor, and to lift something less 
than a thousand pounds to test his bone and muscle, and had, by a series of heavily 
worded questions on some weighty scientific matter, been examined as to his mental 
status, they were pronounced by our learned Surgeon Thompson to be not only compos 
mentis, but a little superior, physically, to any company he had as yet examined. 



OKGANIZ ATI ON— COMPOSITION. 



21 



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Q 

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1-5 



1st Sergt. Wm. H. Dill. 
Coup. Edmund F. Allen. 
Coup. Ebenezer Holbert. 
Jolm M. Garrison. 
William L. Becraft. 
William Wright. 
James H. Clark. 
R. Quackenburjli. 
Norman A. Sly. 
Joel M'X'ann. 
E/,rr Hyatt. 
Gi.orge W Decker. 
John W Smith. 
William H. Tomer. 
Cornei^..: H. Folhert 
John C. Degraw. 
Jolin W Leeper. 
Robert C. Leeper. 
Norman L. Dill. 
William E. Hyatt. 

Edward Royce. 
Corp. E. M. Bahrman. 
Corp. Henry H. Hyatt. 
Corp. Hiram G. Herrick. 

Corp. F. A. Benedict. 

Joseph Wood. 

Coleman Morris. 

Robert Connelly. 

R. S. Lameroux. 

Nathan Hunt. 

Abram C. Furshee. 

Cornelius Allison. 

William Wright. 

Zopher Wilson. 

Joseph Brooks. 

James H. Bertholf. 

Edward J. Blake. 

William McGarrah. 

Carl G. Hoffman. 

Charles H. Acker. 

John B. Weymer. 

Corp. Gideon H. Pelton. 

Corp. Thomas M. Hyatt. 



Samuel Kniffin. 

William J. Miles. Sergt. Wm. B. Van Houten. 

John Raymond. 

Jesseniah Dolson. 

Martin Mulvehill. 

Richard Romine. 

John S. Gray. 

Charles W Davis. 

Gilliam Bertholf. 1st Lieut. Daniel Sayer. 

Benjamin Gray. 

William Dolson. 

George B. Kinney. 

John Hal]. 

John K. Clai k. 

Wells Benj imin. 

Joseph B. Hay. 

J. F. Qua< kenbush. Sergt. John Cowdrey, Jr. 

Wm. E. Quackenbush. 

David Currey. 

Gilbert S. Howard. 

David F. Raymond. 

Olander A. Humphrey. 

John N. Rose. 

Daniel Stephens. Sergt. James G. Irwin. 

Wm. H. CaHister. 

John Edwards. 

Isaac Garrison. 

S. W Garrison. 

Nelson Speer. 

William Mann. 

H. S. Quackenbush. 

J. H. Ackerman. 2d Lieut. John W. Houston. 

Joseph Ashley. 

Thomas S. Storms. 

John Gannin. 

John Degraw. 

A. P. Sherman. 

F. M. Werner. 

Daniel P. Dugan. 



Thomas P. Powell. 
James Pembleton. 



Sergt. Thos. G. Mabee. 



Company " D " was recruited and organized at Warwick — in which town nearly all 
of its members claimed not only a residence but birth-place. It was recruited by 
James W Benedict and Daniel Sayer, and reported in a body at Colonel Ellis' head- 
quarters on the 16th of August. This company was composed principally of intelligent 
young farmers, many of whose faces turned scarlet, and fists involuntarily clenched, 
at Adjutant Silliman's gruff "Take off your hat, sir," as they entered his presence to 
be mustered in. They were proud of the title of " The Warwick Boys." 



22 HISTOEY OF THE 124TH NEW YORK VOLUNTEERS. 



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1st Sergt. W. W. Smith. 
Corp. George D. Scott. 
Corp. John H. Stanton. 
Whitmore Terwilliger. 
John McGow. 
James Partington. 
James T. Thitchener. 
John K. Knapp. 
Samuel McQuaid. 
William Wallace. 
Whitmore Baxter. 
John H. Brooks. 
Nelson Foot. 
David Hepper. 
John Joice. 
Alex. M. Valet. 
Thomas McBride. 
James McGregor. 

Spencer C. Brooks. 

Corp. Martin Mould. 

Corp. J. B. Chatfield. 

Corp. A. P. Millspaugh. 

Corp. David L. Kidd. 

William Whan. 

C. S. Allen. 

A. B. Crawford. 

Thomas Farley. 

William Hamilton. 

John Holland. 

John T. Laroue. 

Henry Losey. 

Robert Rose. 

J. P. Wightman. 

Ira Barnhart. 

James S. Barrett. 

Alexander B. Crawford. 

Giles Curran. 

Patrick Keane. 

Charles Lozier. 

David Stormes. 

Henry P. Turner. 

T. R. Van Tassel. 

Corp. J. S. Alwood. 



Edward Oney. 

Joseph Hanna. Sergt. Charles Stewart. 

William Milligan. 

William Sutherland. 

Robert Wilson. 

John Hainmil. 

Jedutha Millspaugh. 

Wm. H. Milliken. 

Wm. G. Warren. 1st Lt. Jno. B. Stanbrougu. 

Rensalaer D. Baird. 

James Bovell. 

James Cooper. 

James Flannigan. 

Anson Hamilton. 

Nathaniel Jackson. 

Matthew Manny. 

John A. Meyers. Sergt. Amos M. Eager. 

J. H. McCallister. 

Newton B. Pierson. 

Alex. Thompson. 

John C. Vanzyle. 

Eli Vance. 

James Cullen. 

Samuel Chalmers. 

Cortland Bodine. 

Charles Edwards. 

John Gordon. Sergt. A. T. Vandorlyn. 

James C. Haggerty. 

Isaac Ellison. 

David Loughridge. 

William Moore. 

Patrick O'Neil. 

Patrick Hyan. 

Samuel A. White. 

Smith Birdsley. 2d Lieut. Isaac M. Martin. 

John H. Brown. 

William Edgar. 

James A. Smith. 

Henry H. Snyder: 

David Carey. 

G. N. Tucker. 

George Weygant. Sergt. Wilson Weygant. 



Company " I" was composed principally of volunteers from Newburgh. It had in 
its ranks men of all sizes, classes, trades, and professions — and though the majority of 
its members were American born, Old Erin and the land of " Sir Walter " and " The 
bonny Bobby Burns " were well and strongly represented. The company was recruited 
by Leander Clark, J. B. Stanbrough, and I. M. Martin, all of Newburgh It was com- 
pleted, organized, and accepted on the afternoon of August 20th, and was known as 
the Newburgh company. 



ORGANIZATION — COMPOSITION. 



23 



1-1 
i-l 



H 

fc 



1st Sergt. Win. H. Many. 
Corp. Thomas Foley. 
Corp. Nathan B. Potts. 
William A. Homan. 
Duncan \V Boyd. 
Thomas Rodman. 
Cornelius L. Rhodes. 
William Bodenstein. 
Andrew M. Boyd. 
George Florence. 
George J. Thorn. 
Mavalden Odell. 
Daniel Pine. 
John L. Goodsall. 
James P Moulton. 
Sweezey Degraw. 
Isaiah Rumsey. 
Albert Wise. 
Robert H. Foley. 
Cokp. Thomas Milson. 
Corp. A. H. Barton. 
Corp. Oscar Terwilliger. 
Corp. George L. Brewster. 
William S. Brooks. 
William Mead. 
William W Amerman. 
Charles Chatfield. 
James H. Barnes. 
Clark Smith, Jr. 
Robert Rush. 
Samuel Dodge. 
Charles H. Goodsall. 
Daniel S. Gardner. 
Stephen W. Brown. 
James A. Ward. 
William King. 
George G. King. 
William R. Owen. 
Daniel C. Jennings. 
James Ryan. 
Corp. Peter P. Hazen. 



Sergt. John W. Foley. 



1st. Lieut. Wm. Bronson. 



Isaac Odell. 

David Odell. 

W H. Decker. 

Charles Knapp. 

John H. Finch. 

Samuel Lewis. 

James Curry. 

David Wright. 

Frederick Lamereaux. 

David Bowen. 

Geo. W Cabrey 

Peter Conklin. 

Leonard Gary. 

William White. 

Ephraim Tompkins. 

Joseph Helms. 

Daniel O'Hara. Sergt. Geo. H. Chandler. 

William Twiggs. 

Albert E. Bunce. 

James Montgomery. 

John Tompkins. 

John Hagan. 

Johan Fixel. 

John Thompson. 

George Briggs. 

Nathan Edwards. 

Wm. H. G. Thorp. 

James D. Tilton. 

Benj. F. Flagg. 

Abram Merritt. 

Thomas M. Brooks. 

Frederick Dezendorf. 

Wm. H. H. Rhodes. 

David L. Wescott. 

John H. Blair. 

John Sullivan. 

James E. Daniels. 

Samuel Bradenburgh. 

Charles 0. Clark. 

Daniel C. Rider. Sergt. Thomas Taft. 



Sergt. Geo. G. Taylor. 



2d Lieut. H. P. Ra.msdell. 



Corp. Jonas G. Davis — Color- Bearer. 



Company " C " was called the Cornwall company, and the homes of a majority 
of its members were located in that town ; Newburgh, New Windsor, and Monroe 
were also honorably and quite extensively represented. It was recruited by James 
Cromwell and William Silliman, of Cornwall, and William Bronson and Henry P 
Ramsdell, of Newburgh. Its ranks were full on the 15th of August, but the company 
was not fully organized until tin; 20th. It was, however, given the title of '' C," and 
designated color company, both of which belonged, by military usage, to Company " D." 



24 



HISTORY OF THE 124TH NEW YORK VOLUNTEERS. 



rfj 

M 
P3 

o 



p 



1st Sergt. A. McDougal. 
Corp. TheroiY Bodine. 
Coup. David Mould. 
Noah Kimbark. 
John Rediker. 
David D. Post. 
S. S. Youngblood. 
Charles W Evans. 
Milton Crist. 
Josiah Dawson. 
J. A. Miliken. 
Charles W Tindall. 
Charles Seaman. 
Van Keuren Crist. 
Edward Hunter. 

Daniel Traphagen. 

Benjamin Dutcher. 

Corp. John R. Post. 

Corp. Thomas Bradley. 

Corp. Howland Davis. 

Corp. A. R. Rhinehart. 

Daniel T. Tears. 

George Butters. 

Henry Seaman. 

Charles A. McGregor. 

Lyman Fail-child. 

Andrew Armstrong. 

Joseph W. Delamater. 

Chester Judson. 

Thomas O'Connell. 

William Dawson (2d). 

James E. Homan. 

Francis S. Brown. 

Clark B. Gallation. 

Daniel Carman. 

Corp. A. R. Rapalje. 

Corp. W L. Fairchild. 



Wm. Buchanan. 

Judson B. Lupton. Sergt. Geo. B. Youngblood. 

Henry Mathews. 

G. M Legg. 

Charles H. Stevens. 

William McVay. 

Nathan H. Duffle. 

James Crist. 1st Lieut. Henry Gowdy. 

Charles A. Foster. 

E. D. Van Keuren. 

William Brown. 
Jesse F. Camp. 
Thornton Dawson. 
William H. Dawson. 

Van Keuren Crist. Sergt. William H. Cox. 

John Hatch. 

Wm. S. M. Hatch. 

Grandison Judson. 

Robert Mocking. 

Wm. Whiteside. Sergt. John Rowland. 

John E. Kidd. 

Charles E. Brown. 

Thomas H. Baker. 

William B. Sherman. 

John McCann. 

David Hawley. 

Daniel W Baker. 2d Lieut. John R. Hays. 

George O. Fuller. 

Henry Kidd. 

Abram Hawley. 

Jacob F. Jordan. 

Angus Carman. 

Thomas Vanstronder. 



William Shelp. 
Andrew Bowman. 



Sergt. Francis Mead. 



Company " H " was raised in the town of Montgomery by David Crist and others. 
There were among its members an unusually large number of men who were possessed 
of a goodly share of this world's goods, and left behind them most attractive homes. 
Operatives from the Walden Knife Works formed another considerable portion. This 
company boasted a large amount of superior musical talent. It was partially organ- 
ized at the village of Walden, in and near which most of its members resided, and 
reported at the general rendezvous August 20th ; but being a few men short of the 
required number, its organization was not completed until August 23d. 



ORGANIZATION— COMPOSITION. 



25 



W 






h3 

h3 



H 

O 



1st Sergt. T. M. Robinson. 
Conr. William J. Daley. 
Corp. Z. Dusenberry. 
Curtis Ackerman. 
John W. Taylor. 
James B. Moore. 
Abraham Rogers. 
Nicholas Clearwater. 
Thomas Clearwater. 
David B. Wheat. 
James W. Parsons. 
John Scott. 
Lewis W Baxter. 
Theophilus Dolson. 
Joseph A. Blivin. 
Peter T. Stalter. 
Edward Glenn. 
A. W Lamereaux. 
James A. Beakes. 
Corp. John H. Little. 
Corp. Hiram Ketchum. 
Corp. Oscar Harris, Jr. 
Corp. Wm. H. Howell. 
John Granville. 
John J. Stofford. 
Simeon Wheat. 
Wm. P Uptegrove. 
Josiali Harris. * 
Benjamin Hull. 
William Decker. 
Daniel Hal stead. 
William W. Drake. 
J. M. Coddington. 
Charles Newell. 
J. M. Coddington. 
Samuel Clark. 
George Dunmoodey. 
Corp. Adam W. Miller. 
Corp. Moses Crist. 



Joseph H. Johnson. 
Zebulon Hallock. 
Isaac W- Daley. 
Wm. L. Dougherty. 
James Sloat. 
George Brown. 
John H. Sarvice. 
William Mackey. 
Judson Kelly. 
Isaac Gurgerson. 
Hezekiah Harris. 
Horace Wheeler. 
John Burns. 
Chas. M. Everett. 
Chas. J. Fosdick. 
John C. Staples. 
Solomon Carr. 
Lewis Gardiner. 
Matthew W Wood. 
Hiram Clark. 
Richard Traver. 
Wm. H. Shaw. 
Stephen E. Ostrum. 
Adam W Beakes. 
Lewis M. Tonton. 
Jonathan Force. 
George C. Godfrey. 
Henry M. Howell. 
Arch. Freeman. 
Lewis Trister. 
Charles C. Haxton. 
John W Hirst. 
Miles Vance. 

Charles Downing. 

George Nichols. 
John H. Miller. 



Sergt. John R. Banker. 



1st. Lt. Wm. A. Verplank. 



Sergt. S. H. Brower. 



Sergt. John J. Scott. 



2d Lt. A. Whittenreeciier. 



Sergt. William Price. 



Company " E " was composed principally of men from Mount Hope, Wallkill, Craw- 
ford, Newburgh, and Goshen ; though, like Company " A," it had in its ranks repre- 
sentatives from nearly every town in the county. It was recruited by William A. 
McBirney, of Wallkill, William A. Verplank. of New Windsor, and Adolphus Whit- 
tenbeecher, of Newburgh. The date of its organization is August 19th. Crawford 
and Wallkill were always justly proud of their representatives in the ranks of this 
company. 



26 



HISTORY OF THE 124TH NEW YORE VOLUNTEERS. 



M 



o 

'A 

o 



< 

H 



1st Sergt. Jacob Denton. 
Corp. W W Rit.ch. 
Corp. A. S. Holbert. 
John C. Vermylia. 
John Carroll. 
Jacob E. Smith. 
John W Parks. 
Jacob Cameron. 
John C. Holley. 
Alonzo Price. 
James H. Conklin. 
William H. Corter. 

David U. Quick. 

Egbert S. Puff. 

William H. Falkner, 

William W Carpenter. 

Nathan M. Hallock. 

Cokp. J. J. Crawford. 

Cokp. W T. Ogden. 

Cokp. James McCoy. 

Corp. Isaac Decker. 

Stephen B. Kerr. 

William F Christie. 

John R. Meehan. 

Samuel Malcomh. 

Reuben C. Miller. 

Stephen W Frost. 

Solomon W. Smith. 

Cornelius Crans. 

Joseph Point. 

John Skelton. 

A. W. Miller. 

George Randall. 

Daniel E. Webb. 

A. G. Randall. 

Cornelius Herron. 

David S. Purdy. 

Corp. H. J. Wright. 

Corp. G. Van Skiver. 



1st Lieut. James F Roosa. 



Sergt. Daniel E. Webb. 



Charles M. Weller. Sergt. VVinfield W Parsons. 

David N. Wilkin. 

Hugh Foley. 

Henry C. Baker. 

John W Pitts. 

J. IL Conning. 

Thomas Kincaid. 

H. R. Mayette. 

Paul Halliday. 
J. McDermott. 

Sylvanus Grier. 
N. J. Conklin. 

Wm. H. H. Wood, 

Patrick Cuneen. 

Jonathan Acker. 
Michael Cullen. 

Isaac Kanoff. 

Henry W Smith. 

Samuel V. Tidd. 

H. D. Parer. 

G. H. Stephens. 

N. B. Mullen. 

N. C. Drake. 

Gabriel Coleby. 

Charles Godfrey. 



Jonathan Corey. 
D. Carpenter. 
Ira S. Ketcham. 
Gordon B. Cox. 
John O'Brien. 
R. McCartney. 
J. M. Stalbird. 

Peter Noll. 



Sergt. W W Bailey. 



2d Lieut. James Finnegan. 



John Studor. 

Alonzo S. Frost. Sergt. Lewis S. Wisner. 



Company " K." — On the 23d of August, James Finnegan, with some twenty men 
from Newburgh and Goshen, joined forces with William A. Jackson and James T. 
Roosa, who had recruited sixty odd men in and about Middletown, their native 
village, and with a full company stepped into the only remaining gap ; and the regi- 
ment was complete. This company was not lacking in either muscle or intelligence, 
and judging from the swarm of lady visitors it daily entertained while the regiment 
remained at Goshen, it must have carried with it to the field the hearts of half the 
tender maidens of Wallkill. 



ORGANIZATION — COMPOSITION. 



27 



O 



o 
o 






H 



1st Sergt. W. H. Benjamin. 

Corp. Isaac Decker. 

Corp. Chas. H. Wright. 

Matherius Sager. 

Albert W. Parker. 

David H. Corwin. 

Grant B. Benjamin. 

Garret H. Bennett. 

George W Odell. 

Daniel Rigenbaugh. 

Cyrenius Giles. 

Samuel D. Latham. 

Isaac W. Parker. 

A. J. Van Zile. 

William Campbell. 

Alexander Jones. 

Abram Rapalje. 

Kalph R. Riker. 

Abram Stalter. 

Corp. C. W Merritt. 

Corp. J. J. Taylor. 

Corp. Daniel Giles. 

Corp. J. M. Miller. 

George R. Fitzgerald. 

John M. Calyer. 

William Hauxhurst. 

Francis E. Merritt. 

Peter F. Bernier. 

Hiram W. De Groat. 

Nelson De Groat. 

Francis McMahan. 

John Newkirk. 

George W. Coleman. 

Charles T. Cornelius. 

William D. Dawkins. 

Cornelius Hughs. 

Napoleon B. Odell. 

John H. H. Conklin. 

Reuben Turner, Jr. 

Daniel Rider. 

Charles Benjamin. 

Corp. S. T. Bstabrook. 

Corp. Charles G. Cooper. 



Harvey A. Brock. 

Selah Brock. Sergt. F. F. Wood. 

Daniel S. White. 

Peter Higgins. 

John Ostrander. 

Hector Finney. 

Stephen Decker. 

Abraham Denney. 

Henry Dill. 

John Munhall. 1st Lt. Jas. 0. Denntston. 

John Chambers. 

Elijah Fenton. 

David Lowers. 

Gilbert Peet, 

W H. Trainer. 

John Trainer. 

Wm. L. Miller. Sergt. Robert Fairchild. 

Joseph Miller. 

George E. Griffin. 

Thomas Corbett. 

Alexander Trainer- 

William Rake. 

James Roke. 

Lewis P Miller. Sergt. Horatio J. Estabrook. 

William Fosbury. 

Joshua V Cole. 

Henry Brooks. 

Daniel Smith. 

Walter Barton. 

William Jackson. 

J. M. Ketcham. 

William Tysoe. 2d Lieut. David Gibp.s. 

John H. White. 

A. H. Merritt. 

Eli Hughes. 

Joseph Jones. 

Oliver Miller. 

Reuben Turner, Sr. 

George Cripps. 

William E. Cannon. 

Patrick Touhey. 

Chas. A. Ensign. Sergt. Lewis T. Shultz. 



Company " G " was recruited by Isaac Nicoll, James 0. Denniston, and F. F. Wood, of 
Blooming Grove, and David Gibb, of Newburgh. Some fifty of its members were from 
Blooming Grove, fifteen were from Newburgh, and the balance from the towns of New 
Windsor, Monroe, and Chester. Its organization was completed August '20. This fine 
body of men were generally spoken of as the " Washington ville Boys," but frequently 
called the " praying company " ; and there certainly were among its members a consid- 
erable number of brave Christian men. 



28 



HISTORY OF THE 124TII NEW YORK VOLUNTEERS. 



pq 



H 



1st Sergt. G. S. Tuthill. 
CORP. R. R. Murray. 
Corp. John Williams. 
John Eckert. 
William Slawson. 
Reuben Rynders. 
Daniel Babcock. 
Charles Harrington. 
George Shawcross. 
Wesley Storms. 
Samuel Shultz. 
David P Barnes. 
E. M. Carpenter. 
N. C. Hanford. 
R. J. Holland. 
Ezra F. Tuthill. 
William H. Hazen. 
John C. Storms. 
Charles B. Hazen. 
Corp. Wm. G. White. 
Corp. Wm. Valentine. 
Corp. W. D. Millspaugli. 
E. B. Benjamin. 
John P Kingsland. 
E. T. Mapes. 
S. Millspaugh. 
J. M. Merritt. 
William H. Merritt. 
William Snyder. 
Alfred Yeomans. 
Samuel Green. 
R W. Gardner. 
Henry O. Smith. 
Charles H. Bull. 
James Finley. 
Samuel Sherman. 
A. W. Tucker. 
D. R. P Van Gordon. 
William E. Titus. 
Corp. Harrison Bull. 
Corp. Coe L. Reeve. 



Sergt. Bodowine C. Lee. 



1st Lieut. W E. Weyoaxt. 



M. S. Holbert. 
Simon Bellis. 

D. McUormick. 
David Babcock. 
Joseph Bross. 
Herman Crans. 
John (Jlanz. 
Francis Lee. 
Clark Coon. 
James Gavin. 
Jesse Hunter. 

E. N. Laine. 
John Ryerson. 
B. E. Birdsall. 
Matthew Crawley 

George Holley Sergt. J. H. Birdsall. 

George Babcock. 

Moses S. Clark. 

George Culver. 

James Lewis. 

William Lamereaux. 

Patrick Leach. 

Benjamin M. Little. 

James Scott. Seiigt. J. Harvey Hanford. 

William H. Luckey. 

James Odell. 

Henry J. Powell. 

Hugh MeShane. 

John F. Brown. 

A. J. Messenger. 

J. J. Messenger. 

Joseph Pratt. 

S. B. Smith. 

Albert Youngs. 



John A. Space. 
Harrison Storms. 

Michael Mooney. 
S. Garrison. 



2r> Lieut. Wm. E. Mapes. 



SEiifiT. C. A. Wheeler 



Company " B," known as the Goshen company, was recruited by H. S. Murray, of 
Goshen, William E. Mapes, of Florida, and N. K. Weygant, of Newburgh. The 
majority of its members were residents of the town of Goshen ; a squad of eight came 
from Newburgh, and some ten others were from the town of Warwick. In the ranks 
of this company were some of the very best and a few of the poorest soldiers in the 
regiment. It was the second company organized, and was given its proper position — 
the left of the line. 



O R G A N I Z A T I O N— C M P S I T I N. 29 

Edward Ginner.. Company " A." 



k 

■*! 

Eh 

R 
W 

O 

M 

03 
CD 
M 

S 

s 

o 

Q 

I 

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55 



James A. Grier, 

Sergeant- Major 



Henry F. Travis, 

Quartermaster's Sergeant. 



Ellis A. Post, 

Commissary Sergeant. 



John Van Horne, 
Hospital Steward. 



Jeremiah Cole. .Company " F." 



H 
in 



< J. E. Collins Company " I." 



o 



<j Wm. H. Decker. . Company " C." 



02 ^ ^ 

g R Robert Connelly, Jr Co. " C." pj x 

is ii 

5 a. John Duffie. . .Company " H." o3 >-s 



J* Ezekiel Brundage, Company " G.' 



S George Morgan. .Company " E." 






Talmage Burhans.. Company •' K." 



Joseph Gordon . . Company "B. 



Among the company officers — to all of whom particular reference will be made 
in succeeding pages of this work — Captain Murray, Captain Silliman, and Lieutenant 
Wood, had been in the service. Sergeant-Major Grier and Quartermaster's Sergeant 
Travis had both served under Colonel Ellis at Bull Run, and a number of others among 
the non-commissioned officers and privates had already learned, upon the battle-field, 
the smell of rebel powder. 



* When the battalion was about to be mustered, it was found that five companies 
exceeded the maximum allowed. There were also several small squads of men who 
had enlisted for the regiment, for whom no place was found. These men, numbering, 
all told, about one hundred and twenty-five, were left behind, as the nucleus of what 
was afterwards known as the Ironsides regiment. The names of some thirty others 
were retained on the rolls of the regiment, who either did not report to be mustered in 
the United States service, or left without leave immediately after. As none of these 
men ever in reality became a part of the 124th, their names have been omitted. 



30 HISTORY OF THE 124TH NEW YOKK VOLUNTEERS. 



CHAPTER II 

AT GOSHEN TRIP TO WASHINGTON SOLDIER LIFE AT MINERS HILL. 



o 



N the 24th of August orders were received from Washing- 
ton, directing Colonel Ellis to hold his command in readi- 
ness to move on the 27th instant. 

Thursday, the 26th, had been designated by the ladies of 
Orange, as the day on which they would present to the regiment 
that stand of colors beneath which he whose hand should receive 
them, and so many of the brave men over whose heads they 
were that dav to he unfurled, should sutler, bleed, and die, that 
the Union and Liberty might live. 

It was a clear bright day, and with the rising of the sun the 
friends of the American Guard' began to arrive; and for hours 
there poured into the village of Goshen such a, throng of men, 
women, and children, as had seldom before been seen in its 
streets. 

At three p m. the regiment was formed, and Colonel Ellis, hav- 
ing placed himself at the head of his field and staff, in front of it, 
the Hon. Charles H. Winfield stepped forward, and at the close 
of a most patriotic speech, on behalf of the donors handed the 
colors to Colonel Ellis, who, loosing them to the breeze, promised 
the multitude there assembled they should never be disgraced • 
concluding with these words : " If you never again see these 
colors, you will never again see those who bear them from you." 
The Hon. David Cedney then delivered, in behalf of the recip- 
ients, an impressive speech of acceptance. After which Miss 
Charlotte E. Coulter stepped forward, and with a modest, but 

* Before the regiment had received its number-in fact, before the organization was 
half completed-it was christened by Colonel Ellis, " The American Guard." And by 
that title it was most generally known, up to its first general engagement at the battle 
of Chancellorsville. 



AT GOSHEN. 31 

grand little speech, presented a pair of embroidered silk guidons 
— a gift from the four daughters of the little town of Wawayanda. 

This ceremony over, the regiment was dismissed, and the 
companies returned to their respective streets, where many of 
their officers were formally presented with swords and trappings 
of various kinds. After which, the men were soon surrounded bv 
friends and loved ones anxious to spend a few short hours with 
their soldier boys before the final parting came. 

And many a praying mother, as she that day stowed away 
in her son's knapsack articles of clothing or food which she had 
prepared for him with her own hands, slipped away in some corner, 
out of immediate sight, a little Bible, with the holy name of 
mother written therein, hoping, praying, that though he was not 
much used to reading it at home, it might not be entirely neg- 
lected when, deprived of the comforts and protection of that home, 
— he came to experience the privations and dangers of the 
tedious march and terrible battle-field. 

Nearly every house in and about Goshen was filled that night 
with those who remained to witness the departure on the mor- 
row But the morning passed away, and day wore into night 
again, and yet the regiment remained at Goshen. Arms were 
not forthcoming ; and they must wait for them. 

Continuing our drills without arms, and with sticks and the 
few guns we could borrow, several well improved and pleasant 
days were spent at Camp Wickham. 

But on the morning of the 5th of September, there arrived 
simultaneously : a telegram announcing our guns at New York 
city ; orders positively fixing the following day as the time of 
our departure, and Captain William G. Edgerton of the Regular 
Army, who forthwith mustered us into the service of the United 
States of America. 

And at one o'clock p. m., on Saturday, September 6, 1862, wo 
bid adieu to our first camp, with its long lines of rough barracks 
and the pleasant grounds on which many had received their first 
instruction in the duties of the soldier and the evolutions of the bat- 
talion ; and, without arms, but with banners flying and drums beat- 



32 HISTORY OE THE 124TH NEW YORK VOLUNTEERS. 

ing a lively tune ; with knapsacks and haversacks swelled to their 
utmost capacity, with not only wearing apparel that would never 
be worn and food that would never be eaten, but with books to 
read, and keepsakes — tokens of remembrance from mothers, sisters, 
wives, children, and loved ones, many of which, however highly 
prized, would on the first long march have to be abandoned — we 
moved through throngs of weeping ones to the depot, where the 
last hand-shakings and final adieus were given ; and at two p. m. 
the heavily laden train, with wild shrieks to warn away the 
clinging multitudes, moved off, and we were on our way to the 
seat of war. 

As we passed out of Goshen, cheers loud and prolonged fol- 
lowed us till out of hearing. At every depot crowds with loyal 
hearts sent after us shouts of approbation, and ever and anon, as 
our train shot along, we would catch from sweet voices familiar 
notes of patriotic songs. 

At length we passed beyond the limits of our county; but 
there was little change in the scenes which greeted us, save that 
forms and faces were no longer familiar. 

Ever}' depot all along through Rockland and New Jersey had 
its shouting, waving crowd. 

Al one place, high up on a projecting rock, stood an old man 
dressed in a military suit of Revolutionary times, the thin 
locks of his long while hair floating in the breeze, leaning with 
one hand on his stall', and with the other feebling waving the 
Stars and Stripes, while two little girls, dressed in the purest 
white, knelt one on either side of him, their little arms stretched 
out and their eyes turned heavenward, as if in earnest prayer 
to the God of nations for the preservation and success of the 
defenders of the Union their great grandsire had fought to 
establish. 

In due time we reached Jersey City, and after some delay, 
crossed to New York, and took up a roundabout line of march 
for the Park barracks, where nearly all, after partaking of the con- 
tents of their haversacks, stretched themselves out on the pine 
mattresses there furnished them, and were soon asleep. 



TRIP TO WASHINGTON. 33 

The New York Tribune of that date contained a notice of the 
regiment, from which the following extract is taken : " We have 
seldom been more pleased with the general appearance of a regiment 
than with the 124th New York Volunteers ; the most influ- 
ential families in Orange County are represented in its ranks. 
The regiment contains brave, intelligent, healthy young 

Americans, the very cream of the regimental district." 

Sunday morning we were visited by numbers of Orange 
County New Yorkers, and in the afternoon took cars for 
Philadelphia. 

Our guns — Austrian rifles, with sword-bayonets— were very 
heavy, and before leaving the barracks, many a knapsack was 
lightened of parts of its contents ; and the bunks were left strewn 
with clothing, books, and traps of all kind — for our short tramp 
through the city had convinced many of the utter impossibility 
of making a rapid march of any length, under the monstrous loads 
with which they had started out. 

The exchange of one's soft bed for bare, hard boards, is not 
such an event as is usually looked forward to with much pleasure. 
But that step once taken, the next is comparatively easy 

At three o'clock Monday morning we were resting on the 
streets of Philadelphia, with side-walks for beds and knapsacks 
for pillows. 

We had, however, lain there but a short time when we 
received from the ladies of the Quaker City an invitation to 
breakfast. Moving a short distance to a building devoted to the 
purpose, we found, notwithstanding the early hour, a number of 
ladies whose carriages awaited them at the door, there to receive 
us ; superintend the pouring of our coffee, and see that we were 
bountifully served with the luxuries, as well as substantial and 
well-cooked food with which the scrupulously clean tables were 
heavily laden. 

At noon we were in Baltimore, and our march across that city 
was made under a scorching sun, the heat of which was so intense 
that a number of our men fell from sunstroke, and had to be left 
behind. 



34 HISTOKY OF THE 124TH NEW YOKK VOLUNTEERS. 

At two o'clock Tuesday morning we were sleeping soundly 
on the ground and on the stone blocks in front of the Capitol. 

There were rough board barracks at Washington, into which 
the regiment might have been taken, but for reasons which need 
not be here stated, Colonel Ellis, who purposed spending the 
remainder of the night with his command, chose to bivouac in the 
open air, and led us from the depot up to the clean ground, in 
among the granite blocks which now form a portion of the north 
wing of the Capitol, but were then lying in an unfinished state, 
scattered over the plain in front of it. The writer, after some 
hesitation, had chosen the earth rather than the stone for a bed, 
and was in the act of spreading his blankets near an immense 
piece of granite, when Colonel Ellis came along, and sprang to 
the top of it, saying as he did so : ; " Weygant, this is the identi- 
cal feather-bed I slept on when I first visited Washington with 
the 71st; toss up your blankets and let me heave to alongside 
of you." Ten minutes later he was fast asleep; and in ten more it, 
mattered but little to me whether the bed on which I lay was 
stone or down. When I awoke my face was well-nigh blistered 
from the hot rays of the morning sun. 

Here the regiment was tendered its first breakfast direct from 
the hands of Uncle Sam; but with the recollections of that superb 
meal at Philadelphia so fresh in their memory, the filth and 
stench of that government soup-house was too much for the sons 
of Orange, and hardly a score of them entered. 

That afternoon we marched to Camp Chase on Arlington 
Heights ; and on what had so recently been General Lee's estate, 
we for the first time encamped under canvas. 

We remained in Camp Chase two or three days, just long 
enough to get our grounds nicely cleared and cleaned, and our 
tents looking ship-shape, when suddenly our buglers appeared 
before the Colonel's tent, and sounded a call which very few of 
the men understood or had ever heard before. When it ceased, 
all hands were out of their tents, and you could hear from all over 
the camp the inquiries, What's that ? What does thtt mean ? 

The few old soldiers among them, without answering a word 



TRIP TO WASHINGTON. 35 

began pulling down their tents, which they in most instances, 
occupied jointly with others who were green at the business of 
soldiering. 

This unceremonious pulling clown of tents was the occasion of 
several quite lively fisticuffs, and might have resulted in some- 
thing more serious ; but fortunately there was in our camp at the 
time a small, dirty-looking drummer-boy from some New York 
city regiment, who, comprehending the situation, jumped up on a 
stump that stood near the color line, and gave, in the following- 
short speech, the desired information. 

" I say, brave soger boys, that old cuss you just heard yell, 
why, his right name is, Strike tents, and my skillet for it, you will 
get right well acquainted with him afore long, but old sogers like 
me, as knows him well, calls him git up and git ; so shoulder your 
shanties, grab blunderbusses and all. But afore you go, brave 
sogers, let me give you one word of advice, Just leave your feather 
beds and carpets right where they are, and when you come back 
if I'm here, call and pay your respects ;" and kissing his hand., 
our young informant with " I say, fellers, has any of you a hunk of 
pig-tail to spare ? " jumped down. 

Half an hour later " To the colors " was sounded, and we moved 
off about four miles to a very pleasant spot, which we christened 
Camp Ellis. Here we were attached to Piatt's brigade of Whip- 
ple's division, Heintzleman's corps, and the work of familiarizing 
ourselves with the various duties of camp life, and of preparation 
for the sterner work which awaited us, was begun in earnest; and 
all were soon willing to acknowledge that soldier life in its mild- 
est form was far from being mere child's play At five o'clock in 
the morning reveille was sounded, followed by roll-call and an early 
breakfast; at six, surgeon's call and officers' drill; at seven, guard 
mounting; at eight, squad drill, which lasted until half-past ten. 
In the afternoon police duty was begun at one o'clock, and lasted 
until three, when company drill began, and was followed by 
battalion drill, which ended in a dress parade at six p.m. Tattoo 
was sounded at a quarter of nine, and Taps at nine, when lights 



36 HISTORY OF THE 124TH NEW YORK VOLUNTEERS. 

were extinguished, noise ceased, and all in camp, except the guards 
and the officer who commanded them, were permitted to sleep. 

Our division commander, General Whipple, a graduate of 
West Point, was a small, slight, feminine-looking man ; hut, as 
we soon learned, a kind-hearted thorough gentleman, ever mind- 
ful of the comfort, health, and lives of those under him, and 
withal an able, true, and brave soldier. 

Our Brigadier-General, Piatt, was a tall, gloomy-looking West- 
ern man, and a most strict disciplinarian. There were with us in 
his brigade the 122d Pennsylvanians, a nine-months' regiment, 
the glorious old 8('»th New York, our twin regiment throughout 
the war. and the 1st Ohio battery The Pennsylvanians, though 
they had seen a little service, presented nearly as long a front, 
and when on dress parade had almost as new and fresh an 
appearance as did the 124th. The line of the 8Gth New York 
was not half so long, having suffered severely under McClellan 
in the Peninsular campaign; but when its little companies of 
tanned veterans, in their faded, dingy-looking blue, formed on 
their tattered, weather-stained colors — dressed to a perfect line, 
with the slightest perceptible turn of their heads, and brought 
their guns to an order with a single thud — we were ready to 
doff our caps, as in the presence of our superiors. The artillery- 
men too, were veterans; and our brigade numbered, all told, about 
2,200 men. 

Our duties were not long confined to the camp, but soon began 
to extend a little beyond, and to give us slight foretastes of the 
field. Several small squads of the enemy's cavalry having a, few 
days before our arrival at Camp Ellis, penetrated to within a short 
distance of Washington, a strong infantry picket line had been 
established , and to our brigade was assigned the duty of covering 
a section which crossed the Leesburg turnpike some three miles 
beyond our camp. 

About two o'clock p. m., Thursday, September 25, we again 
broke camp, and moved off some six miles, to a piece of woods on 
the west side of Miners' Hill, where we built huge log-fires, and 
bivouacked around them for the night. 



MINERS' HILL. 37 

Next mornina; about a hundred of our number were ordered to 
report for picket duty ; and, accompanied by similar details from 
the other two regiments of our brigade, were led off by one of 
General Piatt's aids to a new position on the line. 

This picket tour, so far as the men from the 124th were concerned, 
was simply a day of rest and feasting. They were held as grand 
reserve, and pitched their tents in the* door yard of one of Vir- 
ginia's '" good Union men," who was " most happy " to deal out 
to them all the eatables he had on hand, even to the very last 
pint of milk he could strip from his lean cows, for a simple equiva- 
lent in greenbacks. So anxious was this good Union man to serve 
his guests, he sat up all that night watching his cows, to prevent 
"the tarnal critters sucking themselves," in order that he might 
have a good supply of milk on hand " for the young gentlemen's 
breakfasts." 

During the afternoon of the 26th, the regiment moved to the 
opposite, or eastern, slope of Miners' Hill, where they again 
pitched tents in regular order, and resumed their usual duties ; 
calling their new grounds Camp Cromwell, after their gallant 
Major, who by his kind, yet dignified and soldierly bearing and 
unfeigned solicitude for the comfort and welfare of the men under 
him, was gradually gaining a warm place in the hearts of the 
whole command. 

In these moves sixteen four-mule teams, with their huge 
wagons were obliged to make second trips in order to transfer all 
the tents, traps, and baggage of the officers. We were green 
troops then, and were near a city from which all our wants 
both real and imaginary, were readily supplied , not many months 
later, officers of the line were .each allowed transportation for a 
small valise and nothing more ; while field and staff were obliged 
to crowd their baggage, tents and all, into a single wagon. 

It was at this camp I received my first detail as brigade field- 
officer of the day The roster for this especial duty was usually 
made up from the field officers in the brigade who were not com- 
manding regiments, but there being so few of that class present 
the names of two captains had been added. At the time I 



38 HISTORY OF THE 124TH NEW YOKK VOLUNTEERS. 

regarded my being selected as one of the two, a compliment 
of which I had just reason to feel proud. 

This detail came to me about ten o'clock Saturday evening, 
October 4. I was to report personally to General Piatt, at his head- 
quarters at nine o'clock the next morning, for instructions ; and well 
do I remember with what pains I arrayed myself in my best suit, 
and how annoyed I was because of their being several wrinkles in 
the skirt of my coat that I could not stretch or rub out ; and how 
my contraband almost wore the skin off his fingers polishing my 
sword-hilt, belt, buckles, and a huge pair of brass spurs I had 
borrowed for the occasion — for was I not to be mounted, and to 
have a staff officer and orderlies riding along the lines after me ? 

My horse and attendants were to be furnished at brigade 
head-quarters ; and at the time appointed — to the very minute — I, 
with my new red sash spread out to its greatest width and 
arranged in regulation style over my shoulder and across my 
breast, made my appearance in front of head-quarters, where, after 
returning in a rather awkward manner the salute of the guard 
which had turned out on my approach, and of the polite orderly 
in front of the General's tent, I gently rapped, or rather scratched, 
the canvas, and was greeted with a " Walk in, sir," which almost 
made my teeth chatter. After the General had questioned me at 
considerable length as to the duties of the field officer of the day 
(I had been up half the night posting myself), and had instructed 
me in a most solemn manner in divers special rules which he 
had personally laid down for the government of his picket-line, 
and which he expected me to see rigidly enforced, I was turned 
over to his Assistant Adjutant-General, Captain Ben Piatt. 

A few moments later, an orderly reported that a horse for the 
officer of the day was ready, and, saluting the General, I passed 
out, and was introduced by Captain Piatt to Lieutenant Riveroak 
Piatt, one of the General's aids, who, accompanied by two well- 
mounted orderlies, sat on his magnificent charger, and with a very 
polite bow, announced himself in readiness to accompany me. 
Then I looked for the noble steed I was to ride, for I was a good 
horseman, and longed to show it ; but my eyes rested on a yeL 



MINEES' HILL. 39 

low, raw-boned, lop-eared, rat-tailed nag, as homely a beast as I 
had ever seen. Turning my eyes, I noticed that all hands, except 
the General, were out of their tents looking at me, and without a 
word of comment I sprang to the saddle and plunged my spurs 
in the animal's ribs, expecting, of course, he would go off with a 
bound ; but he hardly raised his head, and started off on a dog- 
trot, as, much as to say, " Well, old fellow, if you think you can 
accomplish anything with those spurs, poke away-" 

At two p. m. the rounds had been made, and I was back at 
brigade head -quarters, where, the moment I dismounted, an orderly 
seized my animal's bridle and hurried him out of sight, evi- 
dently to prevent the General's learning of the joke. I afterward 
discovered it had been perpetrated by Lieutenant Worthington, 
a nephew and aid of the General's. How I got square with him 
will appear in due time. 

We had not been in Camp Cromwell many days when we 
were made to realize that, even in the sunny South, and that long 
before the arrival of winter, " some days are dark and cheerless." 

In my diary of that year, under date of October 12, I find 
written : " It is a cold, dreary night, a drizzling rain is falling, 
and a damp, cold wind whistles around my miserable old wall-tent, 
entering at every opening — and openings are numerous enough. 
My colored man, Jim Sailor, lies curled up under a pile of 
blankets in one corner, fast asleep. Evidently there is for him 
but little melody in the whistling wind, and what does he care 
now for the rain and cold. Sleep on, old fellow ; whilst I draw 
my great coat and blanket closer about me, and try to write. 

" I hear some one, with a coarse, rough voice, off in the other 
end of the regiment, trying to sing ' Home, Sweet Home.' He 
can hardly carry the tune, and evidently is singing for the pur- 
pose of convincing his tent-mates he is light-hearted. But there 
is a tremor in his harsh bawling which tells a tale his lips would 
not voluntarily utter. Now, other and more melodious voices 
have taken up the tune, and it swells out loud and clear. But 
they must cease. There goes ' tattoo,' and I hear my little 
orderly running up and down his street, shouting ' Turn out ! turn 



40 HISTORY OF THE 124TH NEW YORK VOLUNTEERS. 

out ! ' Now he is calling the roll. There is no answer to some 
of their names ; their owners — poor fellows — are out on picket, 
where they must remain all night in this chilling rain, without 
even a miserable tent to protect them." 

But the following morning, October 13, broke clear and 
bright, and the weather, on the whole, during our stay about 
Washington, was very pleasant, and our soldiering there, when com- 
pared with our after experience, was indeed one grand holiday 

Colonel Ellis was a rather cold, harsh, ambitious man, and 
sometimes chilled us with his terrible bursts of profanity ; but 
he was every inch a soldier. Broad-shouldered, long-limbed, dark- 
skinned, stood six "feet plump, as trim as an arrow, and so straight 
that he seemed to bend backward ; fine-featured, with thin, proud 
lips, a piercing eye, quick, easy movements — every word and act 
bespeaking consciousness of superiority and innate power. And 
in that indescribable soldierly quality, which — for want of a bet- 
ter term — we will call dash, he was unsurpassed by any officer 
in our corps. We loved our Major, but we were proud of 
our Colonel. 

On Thursday afternoon, October 16, the regiment was out 
on drill. We had moved to a level field a mile or more from 
camp. Ellis was drilling us in the evolutions of the battalion, near 
a road, when there suddenl} r emerged from a piece of woods not 
far off, a cavalcade, which we rightly judged to be some of our 
general officers, with their staffs, on a tour of inspection. Upon 
seeing them, the colonel issued orders that were intended to bring 
us properly into line along one side of the road ; but instead, when 
we came into position, the left of each company was just where 
its right should have been. 

Ellis' dark face flushed. He evidently did not wish or intend 
to be caught in that plight ; and riding hurriedly to the front of 
the leading company, he demanded of its commander, in a 
smothered shout and with an oath, " What brought his company in 
that plight ? " receiving in answer to his inquiry, " Obedience to 
orders, sir." 

Exasperated by this terse yet truthful reply, he immediately 



MI NEKS' HILL. 4t 

issued, in the same suppressed voice, an order, prefaced with an 
epithet applied directly to this captain, which was not only unbe- 
coming an officer or soldier, but one which no one, with a spark 
of manhood in him, takes coolly from friend or foe, underling or 
superior. And this officer, instead of obeying it, commanded his 
company to bring their guns to order; and, prepared to take the 
consequences, returned his sword to its scabbard. 

You may, from a man's appearance, estimate very correctly 
the main points in his character ; but an emergency frequently 
uncovers unsuspected weakness, or brings out unguessed strength. 
And just then the soldierly qualities in Colonel Ellis shot forth 
with dazzling brightness. In the lightning of that foul epithet 
the black cloud of passion spent its force. Before it had fairly 
escaped his lips, his quick mind saw his mistake, and the great- 
ness that was in him sprang to the front. 

Turning his head and raising his eyes, as if it were the first 
time he had seen these horsemen, he put spurs to his own fiery 
gray, dashed down the line to the centre, cried " Break ranks ! " 
grasped the color-bearer by the shoulder, wheeled him about in 
the road, waved his sword to indicate the line, and shouted, 
" Rally on your colors ! " and in another instant the passage was 
blocked by a firm line of levelled bayonets. 

So sudden and unexpected was the movement, that these gen- 
erals involuntarily jerked their horses back on their haunches, 
while their faces darkened with anger. But the next instant, 
before they could have reached us had they kept on at the gait 
they were coming, the road was again open, the regiment having 
made, on the double-quick, a left backward wheel. Then the 
cavalcade moved on ; and before they had ridden the length of a 
company we received them at a present, at which these general 
officers, uncovering their heads and bowing — now with their faces 
expressive of approbation — rode past. A difficulty, which, under 
almost any other leader, would have resulted in no little trouble 
to both the Colonel and his subordinate, and possible disgrace to 
the whole regiment, was turned to the lasting advantage of all 
concerned. We could in no other way have made so favorable an 



42 HISTORY OF THE 124TH NEW YORK VOLUNTEERS. 

impression on our generals and their staff officers, a number of 
whom, that day, saw the regiment for the first time. 

The American Guard were prouder than ever of the able sol- 
dier at their head, and even the officer who had been so wantonly 
abused forgot his insult in his admiration of the abilities of his 
chief; and it is worthy of note, that, from that day, Ellis indulged 
less frequently in profane or disrespectful language when address- 
ing those under him. 



FROM MINERS' HILL TO FALMOUTH. 43 



CHAPTER III. 

FROM MINERS' HILL TO FALMOUTH. 

DURTNG our stay at Miners' Fill the regiment was drilled 
with greater regularity, and more hours per day, than at 
any other period of its existence. 

On Thursday afternoon, October 16, Colonel Ellis manoeuvred 
the battalion for over two hours at a double-quick ; and when, at 
length, the welcome announcement, a That will do for to-day," 
was heard, there came with it the clatter of a horse's feet, and we 
saw, riding rapidly over the plain toward us, one of General 
Piatt's aids, who had been sent to look up our regiment, notify 
us that the brigade was to move that evening, and inform Colonel 
Ellis that the General desired him to return to camp forthwith 
and make the necessary preparations. 

Then there came from the Colonel, in quick succession, the 
orders, " Fall in ! Forward ! Route step ! Quick time ! March ! " 
and away we went, wondering what was up. 

For a number of days we had been under what was termed 
light marching order ; which meant, if it meant anything, that 
we might be sent off, at short notice, on some sort of an expedi- 
tion, from which we were to return to the camp we then occupied, 
and at which everything was to be left, that could possibly be 
spared, which would in any way impede our progress. For, said 
the old soldiers, to march light means to move rapidly, and every 
ounce you carry soon seems a pound. 

On reaching camp we learned that our sick, some thirty in 
number, had been ordered to Washington, and were informed 
that instead of going in light we were to move in heavy marching 
order. Now, that meant another thing altogether. We were now 



44 HISTORY OF THE 124TH NEW YORK VOLUNTEERS. 

to take everything, or rather, all the men could carry on their 
backs, and as much of the officers' baggage as could be packed in 
six or eight wagons ; for all but that number were to be used for 
the transportation of ammunition and supplies, and there was to 
be no return for traps that were left. 

At Park Barracks, New York City, we had taken our first 
lesson in that habit of almost criminal wastefulness universally 
practised in the Union armies, which not only cost the soldiers, 
individually, an amount of money that, in the aggregate, reached 
a fabulous sum, but unnecessarily added many millions to our 
national debt. 

After partaking of a hastily prepared supper, we went to work 
with a will, and at sunset the men were sitting and lying around, 
with knapsacks packed, and haversacks and canteens filled, wait- 
ing for old " Strike tents," who made himself heard and was 
recognized without question about ten o'clock. Twenty minutes 
later our pretty little white canvas city at Miners' Hill was among 
the things that had been. The smaller dwellings were strapped 
fast to the knapsacks, ready to be slung on the backs of the men 
they had so recently sheltered. The larger habitations of the 
officers lay in rolls and shapeless heaps near where they, a few 
moments before, had stood, while the ground in all directions was 
strewn with mess-chests, camp-chairs, stoves, and various other 
articles of comfort and convenience, for the transportation of which 
forty wagons would hardly have been sufficient. 

The company officers had thus far been furnished large wall- 
tents, but they had all been in use a longtime, and were regarded 
as poor affairs ; and the prospect of their being left behind for 
want of transportation, and of our getting better ones in their 
stead where we were going, was commented on very favorably by 
all. With what a different feeling they would have been parted 
with had we known that during all our future wanderings up and 
down through Virginia and Maryland, but few of us would ever 
again be sheltered by anything half as good. 

Everything that was to be carried on the person was soon in 
readiness, and we were walking and lying around among the ruins 



FROM MINERS' HILL TO FALMOUTH. 45 

of Camp Cromwell, momentarily expecting the order to " Pall in." 
One, two, three hours passed ; it did not come, but in its stead 
came rain. Some fastened their pieces of shelter-tents together, 
threw them over tent-poles which had been left standing, and 
crawled under; others simply wrapped their rubber blankets 
about their shoulders ; and yet others built large fires, and hud- 
dled around them ; while a few, without even unstrapping blan- 
kets, threw themselves down alongside their traps. And thus we 
passed a long, dreary night, listening for the bugle-call and wist- 
fully waiting for daylight. 

Early Friday morning we learned that Whipple's division 
had orders to join the main army, which was then lying on the 
Maryland side of the Potomac, in the vicinity of Harpers 
Ferry 

Two days before our arrival at Miners' Hill, General McClel- 
lan had left Washington, preceded by the bulk of his army, with 
instructions to drive the enemy from Maryland. Not many days 
later we were shocked by reports of the traitorous conduct of 
Colonel Miles, in what was said to be an unnecessary surrender to 
the enemy of nearly twelve thousand Federal soldiers and a vast 
amount of Government stores at Harper's Ferry Then came con- 
flicting reports and rumors of the engagement at South Mountain, 
and the terrible battle at Antietam, at which — let history award 
the victory to this side or that — it was even then acknowledged 
that the Union loss in killed and wounded exceeded twelve thou- 
sand men. And now, it was said, McCIellan had been peremptorily 
ordered to again move forward, give battle to the enemy, and 
drive him further south ; and that our division was but a portion 
of the force that was being hurried forward to fill the gaps made 
at Harper's Ferry and Antietam. 

At six o'clock the long-looked-for order came ; and without 
waiting to finish our breakfast, which we were at the time eating, 
we hastily gathered up our traps, hurried into line, and started 
off at a rapid gait "toward Washington. A drizzling rain was 
falling ; the air was muggy ; our wet blankets made heavy loads ; 
the mud was deep, and ever and anon, as we plodded along, a 



40 HISTORY OF THE 124TH NEW YORK VOLUNTEERS. 

man gave out and was left alongside the road to be picked up by 
the ambulances which were following in our wake. 

At eleven o'clock we were halted for a few hours' rest near 
the entrance to the aqueduct bridge, opposite Georgetown. At 
noon the sun came out warm and bright, and the men soon covered 
every fence and grass-plat in the vicinity with their wet blankets. 
About four p. m. we moved over the bridge, marched through 
Georgetown into Washington, and halted in front of the Capitol, 
where we squatted in the street until ten o'clock, when we moved 
to the depot. After waiting there two hours longer, a train of 
freight and cattle cars was got ready, and as the clocks of the city 
were striking the midnight hour, our engine tooted " Off breaks,' 1 
and we were soon thundering along through the gloom. 

At the end of a most uncomfortable eleven hours' ride, we 
found ourselves at Knoxville, a small village in Maryland, some 
eight miles east from Harper's Ferry On alighting from the 
cars we were conducted a short distance to a steep, open side-hill, 
where, after stretching ourselves, and partaking of some " hard 
tack " and coffee, we drove in the ground whatever came handy 
to rest our feet against, that we might not slide down, threw our- 
selves on the grass, and, basking in the sun, took a view of what 
was below, in front, and around us. 

The scene was, indeed, a grand one. At our feet was a dilap- 
idated but picturesque village, with two rather extensive cotton 
factories ; but we listened in vain for 

" The whirr and worry of spindles and of looms," 

for the great wheels had ceased toiling 

"Amid the hurry and rushing of the flumes." 

Just beyond the factories ran the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal ; and, 
a little further on, the Potomac came, winding its way through 
the mountains ; along the sides of which, to their very tops, could 
be seen, through openings in the foliage, the white tents of regi- 
ments which had preceded us. But, high above all, wheeling to 
and fro through the air, were scores of turkey-buzzards, waiting 
for their meal of putrid flesh ; and the ugly thought, Is it to be 



FSOM MINERS' HILL TO FALMOUTH. 4f 

brute or human? swept down upon and destroyed the whole 
brood of pleasant emotions awakened by the beauty of the scene 
below. We were stiff, and sore, and tired after our long, sleep- 
less ride in the cars, and retired early and slept very soundly 
that night, rolled in our woollen and rubber blankets, lying on 
our side-hill beds. 

Our division had ceased to belong to the Army of Defence, 
whose principal duties were to hold, under the immediate eyes of 
the President and of the Secretary of War, the line of works 
which encircled the National Capital ; and we were now fairly in 
the field and permanently incorporated with the Army of the 
Potomac. 

Sunday afternoon, October 19, our brigade moved about three 
miles, and encamped in a large field on the farm of a crusty old 
" secesh," who, not satisfied with having guards placed over all 
his movable property, objected even to our drawing the cool 
water from his well. The men of our regiment, while they failed 
to discover by what rule of justice they were deprived of tlie 
privilege of drawing water from a well located on the premises 
of an enemy of their country, simply because that enemy, in the 
bitter meanness of his little soul, didn't wish them to have it, as 
a general thing said but little, and quenched their thirst from 
a muddy stream. Not so with the older soldiers of the other 
regiments. They cursed the guards and the general who had 
placed them there, and swore they would get even with the owner 
before they departed from his broad acres. 

Before we left Knoxville that morning, the strictest kind of 
orders against trespassing and foraging had been read to each of our 
regiments, and when taps ceased that night, not a man, save those 
on duty, was to be seen about our camps. But had any one, pos- 
sessed of an acute sense of smell, chanced to walk through the 
brigade just after midnight, he might have detected, especially in 
the camp of the 86th, what appeared to be the savor of roasting - 
mutton ; had he walked on into the camp of the Pennsyivanians, 
the air might have seemed to be impregnated with the smell of 
burning feathers ; and, as to the Ohio boys — well, there was a 



48 HISTOEY OF THE 124TH NEW YORK VOLUNTEERS. 

rumor at the time that in the dead hours of night the air was 
rent by a piercing squeal, which terminated in a terrible gurgling 
sound. What this hideous noise was no one ever knew, but it 
certainly came right out from between the guns of that battery 

Monday afternoon we left the grounds of this old chap, mu- 
tually disgusted with each other, and marched off some two and a 
half miles to a more congenial spot near Burkettsville, where we 
spent several happy days. The fanners from round about brought 
us apples and potatoes, and even pies and milk, which they sold 
at reasonable rates; and as a few u greenbacks" and "shin- 
plasters " yet remained with the men, they lived for the day, 
taking no thought for the morrow. Here, too, the country was 
well stocked with game, and roast bird and rabbit stew were not 
unknown luxuries. 

Captain Travis, who was then our quartermaster's sergeant, 
tells me that while the regiment lay at this camp, he and a certain 
lieutenant procured shot-guns from a friendly farmer, and started 
out early one morning in quest of birds for a game dinner. About 
a mile from camp they entered the woods at the foot of the moun- 
tain and began clambering up the sides. " Presently," says the 
captain, " we discovered, bobbing about on a plateau just ahead 
of us, an immense flock of wild turkeys, and creeping cautiously 
up, so that we could get a good range, we blazed away both to- 
gether, and as the flock raised we let them have the contents of 
our second barrels. Then we moved out and picked up six fine 
black fellows, and tying their feet together, we shouldered our 
guns, slung our birds over them, and hastened back to camp, as 
proud as cuffies. We knew Colonel Ellis was exceedingly fond 
of wild game, and concluded to select the largest pair and present 
them to him. On entering the Colonel's tent I found him busy 
writing, and without saying a word I laid the birds down beside 
him and walked quietly out ; but before I was twenty feet away 
I heard him shout, 'Come back here ! ' On reentering the tent he 
looked first at* me and then at the birds, and asked, ' Travis, what 

does this mean?' 'Well, Colonel,' said I, 'we had good 

luck this morning — captured half a dozen wild turkeys, and — ' 



FROM MINERS' HILL TO FALMOUTH. 49 

' Wild turkeys ! wild turkeys ! Turkey-buzzards, you ! 

Take away the carrion! ' he shouted." 

South Mountain battle-ground was not far away, and one day 
several of us visited it. Nearly two thousand Federal soldiers 
were wounded, and General Reno and about four hundred others 
had been killed there on the 14th of September. Arriving on 
the field we came to a board fence near a road. This fence was 
pierced full of bullet-holes ; in some places they were so close to- 
gether we covered seven and eight at a time with the palm of 
one hand. 

The Federal battle-line must have stood just behind this fence, 
for the graves of our men were thickest there ; and pieces of 
cracker-boxes, with the names of those who slept beneath them 
written, sometimes in ink, sometimes with pencil, and occasionally 
roughly cut in, were sticking from the ground in all directions. 
But all the mounds we saw that day did not cover the bodies of 
Union soldiers. Getting over the fence, and moving across an 
open space into a piece of woods, we came to the graves of our 
enemies — not so thick, but spreading over a larger space. It was 
not a pleasant sight, that battle-field, with its new-made graves. 
The thoughts it awakened were not of a kind we loved to dwell 
upon, and our return to camp was a gloomy walk, devoid of the 
mirth and jokes which enlivened our journey over. 

When our division left Miners' Hill, its wagon trains were 
started across the country. During the trip quite a number of 
wagons broke down, and some of them were left along the route. 
Friday morning, October 24, we had a division drill, and in the 
afternoon Sergeant Travis came riding through our camp on a 
rather smooth-looking, but wonderfully long-eared mule, and noti- 
fied us he had just received orders to " dump " all the company 
officers' mess-chests, and turn over the wagons in which they 
were carried to the ammunition and supply train. Company A's 
officers had paid fifty dollars for their mess-chest and its contents; 
but it was not a dead loss, for we succeeded in trading the whole 
kit to a crippled Virginia Yankee for a pair of very lean fowls, 
which I have no doubt he stole from some neighbor, who charged 



50 HISTORY OF THE 124TH NEW YOEK VOLUNTEERS. 

the theft to the Union soldiers. We were satisfied, in that we 
had done the very best we could under the circumstances; but I 
am inclined to think the old fellow grieved some over his part of 
the transaction, for when our brigade moved off' they left him a 
score of similar chests without demanding a simple thank you, 
and he might have had ours at the same price. 

While at supper that evening we received marching orders, 
and at half-past nine left this land of milk and honey, and marched, 
with an occasional short halt, until midnight, when we bivouacked 
near Berlin, a station of the Baltimore and Ohio railroad, on the 
banks of the Potomac, across which a pontoon bridge was 
being laid. 

This bridge was made of sixty-two scow-built boats, anchored 
some twenty feet apart, and connected by large beams, across 
which were laid strong planks. It took the place of a costly 
structure which had not long before been destroyed by Stonewall 
Jackson's troops, and of which nothing now remained save a long 
line of massive stone piers. These formed, as they towered in bold 
relief from the rippling waters, striking monuments of the terrible 
devastation of that civil war which, ere it terminated, was to shake 
our social system to its very foundation, rob our country of hun- 
dreds of thousands of her noblest sons, and bring the whole peo- 
ple to the very verge, while it hurled thousands over, the preci- 
pice of financial distress, bankruptcy, and despair, and burdened 
their children with a monstrous public debt, which must for long 
years turn back the tide of emigration, and press the hitherto 
swift-running wheels of our national prosperity deep down into 
the ruts and stiff mud through which many of the old nations of 
Europe had long been toiling. 

As soon as this bridge of boats was completed Pleasonton's 
cavalry clashed across, followed by our entire army, which was 
then over a hundred thousand strong. From Saturday morning 
until five o'clock Sunday afternoon they moved past us, infantry 
after artillery and artillery after infantry, in one unbroken stream. 
Then our turn came, and in a drenching storm we crossed over ; 
and once more polluted Virginia's sacred mud, which was ankle 



FROM MINERS' HILL TO FALMOUTH. 51 

deep. A cold, disagreeable march of three miles brought us to 
Lovettsville, where we halted in a muddy corn-field, not far from 
the scene of Tuesday's skirmish, early enough to admit of the 
men getting up their shelters before darkness set in. 

Our wagons did not come up that night, and nearly all the 
officers— Ellis, Cummins, and Cromwell among the number — lay 
down on the muddy ground without any protection save their wet 
blankets. The rain continued and the wind increased, blowing 
down most of the tents the men had put up ; but all were thor- 
oughly soaked before they turned in, and it really mattered but 
little whether their tents were up or down. About midnight the 
rain ceased falling, but the wind blew up fiercer and stronger than 
ever, and before morning we all realized to the fullest extent what 
actual suffering was — wet to the skin, standing or lying in the 
mud and water, no fires, a violent wind piercing us through and 
through. When the sick call was sounded the next morning 
some thirty of our number were found to be unfit for duty, and 
were packed in ambulances and sent back to a hospital which had 
been established at Berlin. 

We remained in the vicinity of Lovettsville until nine o'clock 
Thursday morning, October 30, when, with three days' cooked 
rations in our haversacks, we started off on a road which " intelli- 
gent contrabands " informed us led to Winchester. After march- 
ing about eight miles we bivouacked near Hillsborough. On the 
the march we passed a squad of prisoners. They were the first 
" Johnnies ? ' many of our boys had ever seen, and consequently 
attracted considerable attention. Our division remained in the 
vicinity of Hillsborough until one o'clock Sunday afternoon, Novem- 
ber 2, when we resumed our march, advanced twelve miles, and 
pitched our tents for the night near Snicker's Gap. 

For several days there had been frequent skirmishes between 
McClellan's advance and the enemy's rear-guard ; and on Satur- 
day, while lying at Hillsborough, we were entertained for several 
hours by the incessant booming of artillery, a weird sort of music 
with which we had not yet become very familiar. The enemy was 
evidently either falling back or being driven before our advance. 



52 HISTORY OF THE 124TH NEW YORK VOLUNTEERS. 

On the afternoon of the 3d we moved forward about five miles, 
and bivouacked near a cluster of buildings called Bloomfield. 
There was no infantry force moving ahead of our brigade that day, 
and when midway of our march a heavy cloud of dust suddenly 
arose about half a mile to our right, and nearly parallel with the 
head of our column, General Piatt, supposing it was caused by 
a body of the enemy's cavalry, ordered a halt, hurried us into 
battle line, and sent forward several mounted men to reconnoitre. 
Then the order " Load at will — load," was given, and obeyed, 
after which, save the slight noise made by the occasional smiting 
together of a pair of weak knees, we stood in perfect silence await- 
ing the result. Presently the mounted men came jogging their 
horses back, and informed the General it was simply another column 
of our troops moving on another road. This report suddenly loos- 
ened every tongue, and as we continued our march, those who, a 
few moments before, had been trembling at the prospect of a fight, 
told of the mighty valorous deeds they would have performed had 
the foe actually appeared in front of them. But they were soon 
ridiculed into silence by comrades, who began jotting down the 
names of the loud talkers under such headings as " A correct list 
of members of the 124th who skedaddled the first time a bullet 
whistled within ten feet of their empty heads," or advised them 
to throw away their guns and get their tongues ground to a 
point. 

There had been quite a lively cavalry skirmish at Bloomfield the 
day before we arrived, in which the rebels had been worsted ; and 
their friends — especially the females— in the village, were out- 
spoken and very bitter in their denunciations of the " nigger- 
loving Yankees." 

On the 4th we moved some six miles to Upperville, and 
bivouacked on grounds where the camp-fires of the enemy, who 
had been there the night before, were yet smouldering. Wednes- 
day, the 5th, Whipple's division had the advance again, and left 
Upperville about nine A. m. At two p. m., having marched twelve 
miles, we halted near the village of Piedmont, where the regiment 
unslung knapsacks, and after a breathing spell of some thirty 



FROM MINERS' HILL In FALMOUTH. 53 

minutes, started off in light marching order for Manassas Gap, 
which was yet ten miles distant. 

Just after dark our brigade reached the foot of the mountain, 
where we were ordered to throw out a light line of pickets, and 
sleep on our arms. The enemy was close at hand, and we were 
not permitted to build fires, though it was a bitter cold night. 
During the afternoon rain had fallen at intervals, our clothes were 
wet, and as our blankets as well as tents had been left behind, we 
suffered terribly We had certainly moved in light marching 
order, for we were not only without tents and blankets, but our 
haversacks were empty, many having eaten their last " hard tack " 
before we left Piedmont. Officers and men were all in the same 
boat this time ; no one had anything to put in his empty stomach 
or on his shivering frame. To sleep was to freeze, and we spent 
the night running back and forth, jumping and stamping our feet, 
thrashing our chilled bodies with our benumbed arms, blowing our 
fingers and slapping our naked hands. Slowly the hours wore by, 
and as morning approached many began to feel within them the 
gnawings of hunger. I remember one of my men finding in his 
haversack a piece of dry, raw salt pork, about the size of a silver 
dollar. He cut it in two and gave me half; and ah ! what a sweet 
morsel it was ; never before had I tasted anything which gave me 
half the satisfaction I derived from eating that piece of pork. 

At an early hour the next morning we resumed our march, 
and had gone but a short distance when we were joined by Captain 
Clark, with a portion of Company I. This company had not 
moved with the regiment for a number of days, having been de- 
tailed as provost-guard for the division; but during the night 
the captain had learned that the regiment was off on what it 
was hoped would be a successful expedition, and not wishing 
to lose any of the prospective glory, obtained permission to fol- 
low us. He left Piedmont about three o'clock in the morning 
with some forty of his men, and after a forced march of eleven 
miles (division head-quarters was a mile in rear of the point the 
regiment had started from), they, without even a halt, took their 
regular position in the line ; and breakfastless we, in single file, 



54 HISTORY OF THE 124TH NEW YORK VOLUNTEERS. 

began climbing up the side of the mountain, ever and anon lend- 
ing a helping hand to some artillery-men who were hauling along 
with us two light long-range guns. 

At ten a. m. we were on the summit of a peak of the Blue 
Pudge, looking off on a landscape of peculiar beauty The guns 
referred to were kept near the head of our column, and the 
moment the men of our leading company were able to look over 
into the valley beyond, the artillery-men hurried their pieces into 
position; seeing which, Major Cromwell, who, with the centre 
companies of the regiment, was yet some distance down the moun- 
tain, hurried Companies C and H into line for a charge, supposing 
the guns to belong to the enemy ; and it was several minutes before 
he could be assured to the contrary As Company K reached 
the crest, Captain Jackson, enraptured with the scene, involun- 
tarily threw up his hands, and turning to Ellis, cried out, " Grand ! 
Magnificent ! " But the Colonel, who was sweeping the surround- 
ing peaks with his glass, replied only with a sharp " Get your com- 
pany into line, captain,''' and turning leisurely to the commander 
of the guns, pointed to a clump of trees not far away, with the 
remark, " A grand place for a masked battery — look out for your- 
selves." 

There at our feet, or rather away down below us, stretching 
off for miles and miles, was the fertile valley of the Shenandoah, 
with its little serpentine river threading a course along through 
its centre. The shores of the river were dotted here and there 
with little clusters of buildings, from several of which single 
church spires glistened in the morning sun. Near the foot of the 
mountain were groups of white tents, in which dwelt squads of 
the enemy's cavalry. To drop down among them a few shells 
from our long-range guns, was but the work of a moment. It was 
like throwing stones in hornets' nests. They didnt stop to 

" fold their tents like the Arabs, 



And as silently steal away," 

but at the very first shell, which burst right among them, they 
mounted their saddled steeds and dashed away in every direction, 
as if " Old Nick " was just behind them. 



FROM MINERS' HILL TO FALMOUTH. 55 

The object of our movement had been to get around in rear 
and cut off the retreat of a force of the enemy's infantry stationed 
in the gap ; but they had got word of our intentions and retired 
long before we reached the top of the mountain. We, however, 
completed the circuit by moving down the opposite side and back 
through the gap, exchanging occasionally, as we went, a few ran- 
dom shots with their scouts. At six p. m. we halted again on the 
site of our former night's bivouac. 

In the meantime other troops had moved in and taken posses- 
sion of the gap, and we were ordered to return to Piedmont. 
After resting a few moments we started off — oh ! how tired and 
hungry We had not gone far when we were gladdened by the 
sight of Sergeant Travis and his mule, for we were sure a wagon 
with food was close at hand. After halting just long enough to 
draw our rations and cook some coffee, we resumed our march, 
moving at quick time all the way It was past midnight when 
we reached our knapsacks, but once there blankets were soon 
unrolled, and before many minutes had passed the ground was 
covered with sleeping men. When we awoke next morning there 
was spread over us all a white blanket of snow 

During the forenoon (November 7 ) all of our men who had 
given out on our return march the night before, rejoined the regi- 
ment, and at three p. m. we were moving forward again. After a 
march of five miles we halted in a piece of woods near Salem. It 
had stormed all day, and we were obliged to clear away the snow 
before pitching our tents. Everything was wet ; the cold air 
chilled us, and we passed a sleepless and most dreary night. At 
eight o'clock next morning we were off again ; pushed on, with 
but one or two rests, until two p. m., when we reached and were 
halted at Orleans. For a number of days our principal diet had 
been hard bread, and short rations at that, and so thoroughly ex- 
hausted were many of our men at the end of that day's march, 
that they truthfully expressed themselves as caring but little 
whether the following morning found them dead or alive. 

We remained at Orleans three days. It was during this halt 
that General George B. McClellan was removed from, and Am- 



5G HISTORY OF THE 124TH NEW YORK VOLUNTEERS. 

brose E. Burnside assigned to, the command of the Army of the 
Potomac. 

On the 10th, Colonel Cummings went out, with a small squad 
of men, on a foraging expedition, and brought in twenty-three 
sheep and a bull. The sheep were soon dressed, and issued to 
the regiment. The bull was tied to one of the supply wagons 
over-night, for we Avere to move at an early hour in the morning, 
and it was thought best to keep and kill him at the end of our 
next day's march ; but he roared, and tore up the ground, and 
pulled the wagon around to such an extent that night, that some- 
body deemed it expedient to cut his lordship loose, and at an 
early hour in the morning he elevated his tail, shook, and then 
loAvered, his head between his fore-legs, gave us a farewell roar, 
and struck a bee-line for his home, or some other place, carrying 
away, as he bounded through the neighboring camps, a dozen or 
more tents — the feelings of the occupants, at being so uncere- 
moniously aroused from their morning slumbers, can better be 
imagined than described. 

On the 11th we moved fonvard about six miles, and encamped 
near Waterloo. On the evening of the 15th, a body of the enemy's 
scouts made a dash at, or accidentally ran into our pickets, strik- 
ing the line at a point where the detail from the 12 2d Pennsyl- 
vania was joined by that of the 124th New York, which con- 
sisted of twenty men under command of Lieutenant W E. Wey- 
gant of Company B. Just what occurred I was not at the time, 
nor have I since, been able to learn. The result was the loss of 
three of their own men, and the capture of three Confederates by 
the Pennsylvanians, while Lieutenant Weygant and his men, with- 
out loss on their part, captured and brought in two of the enemy. 

At five o'clock on the morning of the 16th we started again, 
but instead of moving to the front, changed direction to the left, 
and at the end of a four hours' march, found ourselves at Warren- 
ton, where Whipple's command joined, and became a part of, 
Hooker's Grand Divsiion. 

Warrenton was one of the largest villages Ave had passed 
through since our entry into Virginia. It was the county-seat 



FROM ^MINERS' HILL TO FALHoCTH. 57 

of Fauquier county, and had evidently been a place of no small 
pretensions. Its public buildings — consisting of a court-house 
and three churches — had all been rather imposing structures, but 
they were then almost in ruins, and showed evident marks of 
recent vandalism. A number of dwellings, and two large tents 
which were yet standing, had been used by the enemy as hospi- 
tals, and were found by Pleasonton's men, who, a few clays before 
our arrival, had entered the place at the heels of a body of retreat- 
ing Confederates — filled with the enemy's sick and wounded. 

We were routed up on the 17th at three o'clock in the morn- 
ing, and ordered to get breakfast and be ready to move at a 
moment's notice. And at half-past five, in a heavy storm and 
amid almost total darkness, Ave resumed our onward march. At 
two p. m. we bivouacked in an open field, near a cluster of buildings 
called Liberty, or Libertyville, where we spent the remainder of 
that day and the following night. 

On our arrival at this place, Captain Clark, whose company 
was yet on duty as provost-guard for our division, took possession 
of a large stack of straw, and detailed a squad of his men to 
guard it. During the afternoon all of this straw that was required 
at General Whipple's head-quarters was carried thither, and yet 
by far the greater part remained in charge of the guard, who had 
received explicit orders not to allow any one to take an armful who 
did not present a written order for the same, signed by the captain. 

The rain did not for a moment cease falling, and darkness set 
in at an unusually early hour. About seven o'clock a small body 
of men from the 1st New York made a raid on this straw stack ; 
but the captain happened to be there at the time and they were 
soon driven off. An hour later they returned in greater numbers, 
and undertook to overpower the guard, when Captain Clark drew 
his revolver and shot one of their number, inflicting a severe 
wound ; whereupon the whole party, swearing vengeance, rushed 
at the captain, and compelled him to flee for his life. Favored by 
the darkness he managed to elude his pursuers, and succeeded in 
escaping to division head-quarters, where he was concealed for 
the night. The following morning charges were preferred against 



58 HISTORY OF THE 124TH NEW YORK VOLUNTEERS. 

him, and he was placed under arrest. A few days later he was 
tried and acquitted. Captain Clark subsequently informed me 
he had been instructed by General Whipple to place a strong 
guard over this straw, and to issue it only to the sick, who were 
hourly arriving at our division field hospital which had been 
established near by. 

On the 18th we pushed on again through the mud and rain, 
making about twelve miles, and halting, just before dark, near 
Hartwood church. This was in many respects the severest march 
we had made — all were exhausted and as wet as the rain could 
make us. At nearly every halt those who wore boots pulled 
them off and poured the water out of them, and the moment the 
order " break ranks " was given, the men threw themselves on the 
wet ground, and had they been permitted most of them would 
have laid there until morning without putting up tents, building 
fires, or cooking any food, and not a few of them did lay in that 
condition until daylight. So far as my own company was con- 
cerned, by coaxing some and driving others, I succeeded in get- 
ting all our tents up, good fires burning and coffee boiling. 
After which I threw myself down on some pine twigs, under 
a little shelter tent, to await the preparation of my supper. 
Before it was ready an order came for Company A to strike tents 
and get ready for picket. It was hard, but there was no alternative. 
Hastily swallowing their half-boiled coffee, and eating a little 
hard bread, the poor fellows wrung all the weight of water they 
could from their blankets, pulled down and rolled their tents, and 
huddled around the fires, waiting for the order to fall in. After 
standing in the rain two long hours, the order was countermanded, 
and we were. again permitted to unpack and put up our tents. 

A hundred thousand Union soldiers lay on the wet ground, in 
their wet clothes, under their wet blankets, and shivered the dark 
hours awa}' There are no records which show the number of 
men lost to our army by that night's exposure, but many a battle, 
called severe, cost not half the number. 

On the 19th we succeeded in making our way, through the 
rain and hourly deepening mud, a distance of about six miles, 



FKOM MINERS' HILL TO FALMOUTH. 59 

when the bottom seemed to drop entirely out of the roads, and 
the artillery and wagon trains sank so deep they could be moved 
no further, and we were ordered to pitch our tents for the night. 
The storm continued with unabated fury throughout the 20th and 
21st, but the roads were in the meantime corduroyed, and at nine 
o'clock on the "22d we struck tents, and again waded forward 
through the mud. At seven p. m. we had made five miles. On 
the 23d we waded yet another five miles, and were halted about 
two miles from Falmouth, and within four miles of Fredericks- 
burg. On the following morning we moved a few rods to some 
high ground, where, after clearing away some brush, we laid out a 
color line and company streets ; and, for the first time since leav- 
ing Miner's Hill, went regularly into camp. 

At noon that day our tents were all up in regulation style, and 
everything about camp was in order ; but how slight was the 
resemblance it bore to our pleasant little city at Camp Cromwell. 
There the surrounding fields were carpeted with grass ; here they 
were covered with a thick coating of slimy, sticky mud. There 
all the officers were in convenient wall tents, and the shelter 
tents of the men were clean and white ; here line officers and 
private soldiers crawled under the same kind of dirty shelters. 
There was not a tent in the regiment, save the three or four 
occupied by our field and staff, in which a man could stand erect. 

On the 25th our corps — the 3d, which, since the reorganization 
of the army by General Burnside had beeu commanded by Gen- 
eral Stoneman — was reviewed by General Hooker, whose com- 
mand consisted of it and the 5th corps. 

On the following morning we resumed our usual camp duties, 
the routine differing but little from what it had been at Miners' 
Hill, except that our drills were less severe, and that our picket 
tours were of three days' instead of twenty-four hours' duration. 

During the following two weeks the regiment changed camp 
.several times, but did not get half a mile away from the spo. 
where we pitched our tents on the 24th. Those little wedge-shaped 
shelters, only four feet high from the ground to ridge pole, did very 
well for summer, but made most miserable dwellings for winter 



60 HI tt TO KY OP THE 12 4TH NEW YOllK. VOLUNTKEKS. 

weather. Personally, however-, I had little to complain of, on 
that score, having been detailed, immediately on our arrival there, 
as Brigade Provost-marshal, and ordered to report at General 
Piatt's head-quarters, where I was furnished with a new wall 
tent, in which I spent most of my leisure time until the army 
went into winter quarters. 



AT FK£DEE10KtlLUK(i. 61 



CHAPTER IV 



AT FREDERICKSBURG. 



THE plan of operations against the Confederate capital, adopted 
by General Burnside on his taking command of the Army of 
the Potomac, was evidently based on the belief that, by pushing 
his forces rapidly down the north-east bank of the Rappahannock, 
he would be able to cross that river at Fredericksburg, and get 
well on his way toward, if he did actually reach Richmond 
before General Lee would be able to concentrate in front of him 
a sufficient force with which to offer any very serious resistance. 

And this might perhaps have been accomplished, notwith- 
standing the muddy roads and the inclemency of the weather, 
but for the inexplicable delay of our pontoon trains, which did 
not arrive until the 10th of December. 

This delay of nearly three weeks gave General Lee ample 
time to thoroughly intrench and fortify a hitherto almost unten- 
able position on the bluffs in rear of Fredericksburg ; and 
enabled him to concentrate behind and around those works a force 
of at least eighty thousand of the very best troops in the Confed- 
eracy, by far the greater part of which, when Burnside's advance 
appeared on the heights in front of Fredericksburg, were from 
eight to twelve days' march away — Stonewall Jackson and his 
thirty odd thousand being at Winchester, nearly a hundred miles 
distant. 

Considering the changed circumstances of the enemy, and the 
lateness of the season, when at length the pontoons did arrive, 
it would seem the Army of the Potomac should have been allowed 
to settle quietly down in winter quarters, and all further demon- 
strations in that quarter deferred until the opening of spring. 

But the "powers that were " thought differently, or rather, 



62 HISTORY OF THE 124TH NEW 70EK VOLUNTEERS. 

I perhaps should say, were unable to resist the cry of " Onward to 
Richmond," which came up with great persistency from a host of 
unprincipled politicians and capitalists of the North — a body of 
men who, though actually becoming richer as the necessities of 
their country increased, with great pomp and ceremony claimed 
to be furnishing the Government from their own private pockets 
with what they termed the very sinews of ivar ; a noble work 
which they to this day would have the people believe was a 
grander thing than the taking of one's life in his own hands and 
deliberately laying it on the altar of his country 

But let the cause and responsibility of that inauspicious move- 
ment be what, and rest where, it may, it is certain that, imme- 
diately on the arrival of the pontoons, orders preliminary to a 
general movement were issued ; and, about eight o'clock a. m. on 
the 11th of December, our brigade, having that morning piled 
their knapsacks in tents left standing for that purpose at their 
camp near Falmouth, marched off to, and halted behind, a long 
line of bluffs called Stafford Heights, which, a littie further on, 
formed the northern bank of the Rappahannock and overlooked 
the city of Fredericksburg. 

Here they stacked arms and lay down to await the completion 
of a pontoon bridge which our engineers had, during the night, 
pushed two-thirds of the way across the river, and were that 
morning, assisted by the 7th Michigan and some Massachusetts 
regiments, endeavoring to finish, under a most destructive fire from 
the rebel General Barkesdale's Mississippi sharp-shooters, who 
were posted on the opposite shore. This fire ever and anon 
became so terrific as to drive our bridge-builders from their work, 
-mid they would come rushing up over the edge of the bluff, 
dragging their wounded and dying with them, but only to 
reform and be reinforced ; when they would dash down again, 
grasping the timbers as they went; push out another boat, with- 
stand again, for a few moments, the ceaseless shower of bullets ; 
lay a few more planks, which as they fell were frequently just in 
time to catch the bleeding, staggering forms of the men who had 
borne them. 



F K K D E K I C K S B U K (i. 63 

And thus this floating blood-stained bridge was pushed out 
toward the hostile shore, bringing its resolute builders nearer and 
yet nearer their hidden foes ; until at last, about noon, it became 
impossible to gain another foot. It was in vain they grasped the 
timbers and rushed forward, they could no longer reach the 
unfinished end ; before they were half across, timbers and men 
went down in a heap together on the planks already laid, or 
staggering to the edge, toppled over into the stream. 

Along the entire front of the city — from behind every fence 
and out of every window and door-way — came the powder flash 
that hurled death's messengers among them. 

At length forbearance ceased to be a virtue, even where a 
city was at stake. All of a sudden the earth trembled and the air 
was rent with a noise that cannot be described. 

The long line of a hundred and twenty huge guns, which covered 
Stafford Heights, as of one accord shot forth their tongues of fire, 
and raised their horrid voices in protest of this wanton slaughter ; 
and for hours these terrible thundering monsters belched forlh 
their fire and smoke, and hurled their whizzing shot and screech- 
ing shell right into the doomed city, crushing down their hiding- 
places on the heads of the concealed foe. 

The bluffs disappeared ; and in their stead was a long line of 
puffing, curling smoke, filled with weird-looking forms of moving 
men, and lit up continually by ever changing flashes of shooting 
flame. The river, too, faded from our sight, and the crumbling 
city gradually disappeared under thick black clouds of powder 
smoke ; from beneath which could be heard, amid the ceaseless 
roar of cannon, the irregular rattle of musketry, the boom of 
falling timbers, the crash of shot and shell, and the shouts and 
yells of contending troops. 

At length the cannonade ceased, the smoke raised a little, 
and lo ! two bridges spanned the river, filled with columns of 
Union troops, ^who were hurrying across into the battered city, 
which was not yet entirely cleared of the enemy, though our 
infantry crossing in boats under cover of the smoke, had suc- 
cessfully, driven them from the river front. Away up the streets 



01 



UlSiOi. i it nit 1 '2 4 Til NEW YORK VOLUNTEERS. 



little clouds of white curling smoke could be seen puffing from 
behind buildings and out of door-ways ; while the rattle of mus- 
ketry seemed to increase as the heavier noises died away 

But steadily, though slowly, our heavy, broken lines of skir- 
mishers pushed on from street to street, until at eight P. m. the last 
of the stubborn foe were driven beyond its limits ; when the firing 
gradually ceased, and soon the two vast armies slept. It is said 
we lost over three hundred men laying that double bridge, and 
as many more in driving the foe from the city This, however, 
was but a side show The main battle had not yet commenced. 

Friday morning a dense fog, thicker than Thursday's smoke, 
hid the landscape from view ; and not far away and all around us 
Ave could hear the clattering of unseen artillery and the mingling 
of numerous voices directing the movements of unseen troops. 
While still nearer, dim outlines of moving columns could be seen 
through the mist. Occasionally this dense fog would lift a little, 
but never enough to admit of our discovering what was taking 
place beyond the river. 

About ten o'clock we fell in with the moving mass, and crept 
along the road and down the side of the bluff to the bridge, halt- 
ing a short time on the shore ; then, moving a few inches at a 
time, we began to cross. But before half the regiment was on 
the bridge, the passage-way on the opposite shore became so com- 
pletely blocked that we could move no farther, and were standing 
there, quietly talking with one another, when the fog lifted a little, 
and uncovered us to the view of the enemy's artillerists, who forth- 
with opened on us one of their batteries. Fortunately the range 
w r as at first a little high, and the whizzing, hissing shells passed 
harmlessly over our heads and plunged into the water beyond. 

But they had no idea of wasting their ammunition, and imme- 
diately began correcting their range. Then the shells fell in the 
water above us, but very near the bridge, which was becoming 
decidedly uncomfortable. " The next time, they will fetch us," 
cried a voice just ahead of me ; and sure enough the next shell 
struck in the regiment in front of us, very near where the voice 
came from, and I did not hear any one shout, " I told you so." 



FREDERICKSBURG. 65 

Then came the order to " right about," and we were hurried 
to the shore, where we threw ourselves on the ground ; hut after 
a moment or two fell in line again and moved out of range. 

The regiment which stood on the bridge ahead of us had two 
men killed and several wounded, but fortunately none of the 
124th were injured. This was the first time our regiment had 
actually been under fire, and with but one or two exceptions, 
there was no cause for censure of officer or man. When a shell 
passed very near the tops of our heads, we may have stooped a 
little, that was all — brave old soldiers did the same. But some 
of our contrabands behaved badly — very badly indeed. 

When the regiment left Goshen, I took with me as servant 
a colored man from Newburgh, named James Sailor. A short 
time before the army reached Falmouth, Jim left my employ, and 
hired with Major Cromwell. When the order to lie down was 
given, after we came off the bridge, the major dismounted, and 
called for Jim to take his horse ; but Jim did not respond, nor 
could he be found. Several saw him go on, but no one had seen 
him come off. It appears Jim went on the bridge in company with 
the contrabands of the regiment which preceded us, and when 
that shell struck among them, he become totally demoralized, and, 
unable to get off the bridge, got under it — that is, he slipped off 
the planks in the end of one of the pontoons, and finding it half 
full of water, stretched out and braced his hands and feet against 
the sides of the boat, so as to keep himself above the water, and 
crawled under the planking. 

As the major stood holding his horse, wondering what had 
become of Jim, an old man, who lay on the shore — one of the 86th, 
I think — sprang to his feet, grasping as he did so a good-sized stone, 
and regardless of bursting shells, which were yet raining around 
the bridge, rushed forward and " tiptoed " out to over where 
Jim was, when he raised the stone above his head, dashed it 
down on the planks, and hurried back to the shore. As the 
stone struck the bridge, there was a splash in the water, and the 
next minute out crawled Jim, shaking like a leaf, his teeth chat- 
tering, the cold water dripping from every part of him — the 



:,lj HISTOEY OF THE 124TH NEW YORK VOLUNTEERS. 

worst frightened and most sorry-looking colored gent I had ever 
seen. 

Company A's officers had with them a little black, shining, 
faced fellow named Jack Smith. Now Jack was a rather proud 
and very logical chap, made the very best biscuits, said he had 
seen some service, and claimed to possess a large share of that 
admirable soldierly quality called bravery 

As we stood on the bridge just before the shelling commenced, 
I called Jack to me and asked for my canteen and haversack, for 
I mistrusted that if Ave should get into any trouble, Jack might 
not be on hand when I needed him ; but the little fellow seemed 
so hurt by my apparent distrust, and protested so strongly, say- 
ing, " I'se bin in fights afore, and don't want to see massa cap- 
tain toteing his own grub, and dis little nigger loafin' 'long doin' 
noffin ; s'pose you done gone get wounded, don't you 'spec' me dar 
to took care on you ? You needn't gone git afeerd I'se gwine 
to runn'd away from you ; no sah, massa captain, I'll stay wid 
you." So I left my haversack with Jack, taking only one of the 
three canteens he had strung about his shoulder. But the moment 
the shells began to fall, Jack disappeared ; and as we about faced, 
I caught a glimpse of the little scamp just straightening himself up 
on the top of the bank, and the next instant he bounded off like 
a deer, the haversack and canteens seeming to stand right out 
behind him. It is needless to say I never tasted the contents of 
that haversack. No other troops attempted to cross the river 
at that point during the day, and toward evening we moved off 
to a damp, muddy flat, where we shivered the night away 

At six o'clock next morning we returned to the river, and, 
unmolested, crossed the bridge and lay clown on a level strip of 
ground a few rods up from the southern shore, and under cover 
of a steep bank. Here we remained two or three hours, watching 
through the mist the quiet crossing of unbroken columns of our 
troops. The crackling of musketry had ceased ; the artillery was 
quiet, and the only unusual noise that reached us was the distant 
rumbling of moving trains. But this quiet was that which pre- 
cedes the storm. 



FEEDKE1CKSBUKG. 67 

About ten o'clock the sun broke through, dispelling the mist, 
which seemed to be a preconcerted signal for the opening of the 
battle. As the sky cleared, the guns on the opposing heights 
opened with terrible fury : while from the left came the crackling 
of musketry, which increased suddenly to heavy prolonged vollevs, 
and ere long settled into a continuous roar that spread along the 
front and soon seemed to come from every direction, telling that 
the work of death had begun in earnest. Again the long line of 
guns on Stafford Heights, now in our rear, and at first in full view, 
disappeared beneath clouds of fire-lit smoke, while the air above 
seemed filled with shot and shell. 

About two p. m. orders came for our brigade to storm a bat- 
tery on the heights beyond us. The 86th and 122d were 
ordered to move on the flanks, and the 124th to attack in front. 
In a few moments we were hurrying over the flats to a posi- 
tion where we had been ordered to form for the charge ; but 
before we reached it, our brigadier, in attempting to force his 
horse over a ditch, fell in, and was so badly injured that he had 
to be carried to the rear. 

Arriving at the point designated, and forming line as directed, 
we lay down awaiting the order to charge. But, fortunately 
for the Orange Blossoms, it never came. Our time, was not yet. 
Other fields were to test our valor and drink our blood ; but this 
time other troops were to do and die while we lay looking on. 

All day the battle raged and the deafening roar continued ; 
but as night came on it gradually slackened, and finally almost 
entirely ceased. At dusk we were yet lying on the ground in 
front of the enemy's batteries. As soon as it was dark, we threw 
out pickets, and then again shivered the night away ; but no one 
complained. 

At daybreak we moved back a short distance, behind some 
old buildings, where we quietly spent the Sabbath until four p. m., 
when we returned to the river bank, and were halted near an old 
mill, in which we found some flour. Starting up little fires, we 
cooked some coffee and baked some cakes. Not far off, a street 
ran through the village to the river near the bridge, down which 



68 HISTORY OF THE 124TH iN h W XOKK VOLUNTKEKS. 

there poured a continuous stream of troops. They were not fresh 
men, moving into the city in close column with banners flying, but 
a vast procession of wounded, bleeding, dying men — in ambulances, 
on litters, in the arms of comrades, and some staggering along 
alone on foot, all hurrying away from the field. 

Sunday evening came, the conflict had not been renewed, and 
just after dark we were ordered out on picket, and again moved 
over the plain to within four hundred yards of the enemy's works, 
where we once more threw ourselves down on the wet, muddy 
ground. All night we could hear the peculiar noise of moving 
artillery, which seemed to be coming up from the river and going 
into position all around us. 

Just after midnight the moon came out, but the air was thick 
with smoke. At two o'clock our line was driven back a short 
distance. About four o'clock it clouded up again, and rain began 
to fall. A little later Colonel Cummings came to me, evidently 
somewhat excited, and whispered the order, " Hurry in your 
vedettes without making any noise." That done, we were started 
off at a double quick for the river. 

As we neared the bridge, the light of dawning day revealed 
to us the opposite shore and heights, packed as far as the eye 
could penetrate with one living mass of moving troops ; while 
hurrying over the straw-covered bridge were the last regiments 
of Burnside's army 

All that rattling of artillery which we who were on picket 
supposed to be new batteries going into position, preparatory to 
a renewal of the conflict in the morning, was made by a few 
empty caissons sent over to deceive the enemy, and drown by their 
clatter the unavoidable noise of our retiring troops. The ruse 
was entirely successful ; and before the enemy mistrusted that 
Burnside was withdrawing, his entire army— pickets and all — had 
recrossed the river, taken up their pontoons, and were marching 
leisurely back to their camping grounds about Falmouth. 



SOMETHING M'^RE ABOUT FEED EB ICKSBURG. 69 



CHAPTER V 

SOMETHING MORE ABOUT FREDERICKSBURG. 

AS our regiment did not become actively engaged at Fred- 
- ericksburg, I attempted to crowd in the preceding short 
chapter all I thought necessary to narrate, in this connection, 
concerning that disastrous battle. But in reading the same 
after it had come back to me from the press, and the time for 
making corrections had passed, I discovered that the events of 
one entire day had been unwittingly left out, and that I had 
stated as occurring on Sunday night that which did not take place 
until Monday night. In order, therefore, to straighten the links 
already joined, and — by picking up and welding in the missing 
ones — to mend the break in the chain of principal experiences of 
the 124th which I am endeavoring to forge, it seems necessary to 
countermarch, and take a new start from the opening scene of 
the principal act in that bloody drama. 

When at ten a. m. on Saturday, the mighty king of day 
approached, and majestically lifted the heavy fog curtain, under 
cover of which the Union generals had formed their battle lines 
and attacking columns within easy range of the enemy's guns, 
there appeared facing each other in hostile array upon that ver- 
dureless stage, which was soon to become a gory battlefield, two 
hundred thousand troops, equipped with all the modern enginery 
of war. This was undoubtedly as terribly grand a sight as had 
ever been witnessed on this continent. Never before had the vast 
proportions of the two grand armies appeared with such vivid dis- 
tinctness. Stretching along the high grounds and covering every 
hill-top beyond the smouldering city, were long lines of massive 
earthworks, fromover the parapets and through the embrasures of 



70 HISTORY OF THE 124TH NEW YOEK VOLUNTEERS. 

which three hundred cannon frowned. Behind these formidable 
works — like the might)' giant of ancient fable, his most vulnerable 
parts concealed by his impenetrable shield — stood the army of 
Northern Virginia, eighty thousand strong. 

Marshalled on the open plains below, standing resolutely to 
their weapons, read)', waiting, for the order forward, was the 
army of the Potomac — the Hercules of the North, larger-bodied 
and stronger-limbed than his adversary, but without shield or 
helmet to ward off a single dart. 

For a few moments an ominous silence prevailed, then the 
Union left was seen to move forward. A single bugle blast from 
in front of the city on the right, set Couch's brigades in motion 
toward Marye's Hill ; flashes of fire, followed by curling clouds 
of smoke, darted from the Union batteries on the plain, and from 
the huge guns on Stafford Heights ; while from the Confederate 
works came answering flashes. Bursting shells made fearful 
havoc in the advancing lines ; but onward, right onward, faster 
and faster they moved, gradually fading from view, as the air, 
deadened by three hundred guns, became heavier and more dense. 
Anon, above the roar of cannon, the Union charging shout was 
heard. A sheet of flame lit up the rebel works, and as a dreadful 
crash of musketry — like a thunder-clap when the lightning strikes 
so near that one's eyes are blinded by the flash — was heard, huge 
clouds of smoke, uniting, shut in the dread combatants. 

But few of the 124th witnessed, to any considerable extent, 
this grand scene. Half an hour after the regiment had crossed 
the river, Companies E and F were detached and sent, under com- 
mand of Captain McBirney, to the Kenmere House, near the 
southern outskirts of the city, to support a battery belonging to 
our division. On reaching this battery they were stationed on 
high ground from which they might have witnessed Couch's ad- 
vance against Marye's Hill ; but as soon as the fog lifted, several 
men belonging to the battery were hit by bullets fired by concealed 
sharpshooters, and our infantrymen were ordered to lie down. 
This order, given just as a bullet passed within a few inches of Cap- 
tain McBirney's head, was obeyed with alacrity, notwithstanding 



SOMETHING MOEE ABOUT FREDEK I CKS BU RG. 71 

their very natural desire to watch what was taking place in front 
of them. As soon as this battery opened, which was at the very 
commencement of the battle, two more gunners were picked off. 

It was evident these unseen rebel marksmen were not far 
away, and a man of Company F volunteered to creep out between 
the lines, and if possible learn where they were secreted. Mov- 
ing through a field, and past a suburban dwelling, he discovered 
a little cloud of smoke coming out of an octagon summer-house. 
As soon as he could get back and report this fact, a section of 
the battery was turned in that direction. The summer-house 
was soon demolished, and it was believed the troublesome sharp- 
shooters were torn to pieces with it. At all events no one was 
seen to leave it and no more bullets came from that direction. 

The regiment, excepting the companies referred to, was lying, 
it will be remembered, at the river, under cover of a steep bank. 
Near by, in charge of a single guard, there ky scattered over the 
ground about three hundred knapsacks. One of the regiments 
which had formed the first line that advanced against the enemy's 
works, had started from there. About noon, some twenty of 
its members returned, with faces begrimed with powder, and 
some of them with slight wounds, and reported their regiment 
had been almost annihilated. A little later, another of their 
number came in, and showed a gun with half its stock shot 
away, and was explaining to a squad of our men how the 
piece of shell which hit it had killed two of his comrades, when 
that order came for Piatt's brigade to move forward and form for 
a charge on the plains at the right of the city. As we sprang 
to our feet, and were about to take arms, several pieces of a 
prematurely bursting shell fell among us, destroying several 
old Belgians, which composed one of our gunstacks, and wound- 
ing three of our men. As soon as we moved up over the bank, 
stray bullets began to pass over us, and before night we became 
very familiar with their peculiar whistlings. 

Sunday afternoon Corporal X walked into a deserted 

dwelling near the river, and seating himself at a piano he found 
there, struck up " Hail Columbia," but the tune was suddenly 



72 HISTORY OF THE 124TH NEW YOEK VOLUNTEERS. 

cut short by a rebel cannon ball, which came in without ceremony 
through the side of the building, passed through the instrument, 
and aroused in the breast of the performer so strong a desire to 
get back to his regiment, that, unwilling to waste the time neces- 
sary to go out by the door, he walked straight through the nearest 
window without even halting to raise the sash. 

It was Monday instead of Sunday night that we were on 
picket, listening to the clatter of empty caissons, which we believed 
to be newly arrived batteries going into position. We spent Sun- 
day night at the river. In the evening large quantities of bed- 
ding, borrowed for the occasion from deserted dwellings near by, 
were brought down and spread out on the shore, and not a few 
of our number slept that night on feather beds, and had spread 
over them soft white woollen, instead of course gray blankets. 
But our Hail Columbia hero slept on the hard ground ; and, I 
am told by his comrades, could never after that day's experience 
be induced, under any pretext, to enter a deserted Southern 
dwelling. 

When — after sustaining a loss of thirteen thousand men in 
desperate but unsuccessful efforts to dislodge the foe — General 
Burnside allowed himself to become convinced that the enemy's 
works, manned and commanded as they then were, could not be 
carried by direct assault, and it was decided to withdraw to the 
old position at Falmouth, it became necessary to throw around 
the entire army, before the movement was begun, a strong picket 
line of fresh and reliable troops ; which, did a necessity arise, 
could be used as a " forlorn hope." 

Our brigade formed the extreme right of this line, and the 
124th was one of the last, if not the last regiment to recross the 
bridge in front of the city In our hasty withdrawal, four of our 
men, who had been posted by our adjutant or sergeant-major in 
an old -building some distance in advance of our main line of 
vedettes, were forgotten and left at their post. 

On our march back to camp we were obliged to ford a stream, 
the water of which came up to our knees, and was very cold. 
During the afternoon two of the men who had been left at Fred- 



SOMETHING MORE ABOUT FEEDEE1CKSBUE6, 73 

ericksburg, walked in camp son king wet, and one of them — Pri- 
vate Benjamin Lancaster, of Company A — with chattering teeth 
gave the following account of his escape. 

" Just after daybreak the enemy advanced a heavy line of 
skirmishers, and after firing two rounds we concluded to fall back 
to our main line ; but ivhen we got where it was, it wasn't there. 
Then we started for the reserve, but they too had gone, and 
so we made for the bridge, but that also had disappeared. At 
first I thought I must have fallen asleep on my post, and was 
dreaming, but just then I saw several Johnnies advancing toward 
us, and heard one of them shout, ' Halt, you d — Yankees, or we 
will blow your brains out.' I don't know what became of the 
others, but I was the farthest away from the gray-backs, and 
jumped down the river bank on which I was standing, ran half 
a mile up the shore, and hid in some brush. After resting there 
a, short time, I crept oil, keeping concealed as well as I could, 
until I came to a shallow-looking place in the river, which I 
thought was a ford ; and I attempted to wade across. Before I 
reached the centre of the stream, the water was up to my chin, 
and I was obliged to drop my gun and accoutrements, and do a little 
tall swimming. As soon as I made my appearance on this side 
of the river, 1 was arrested by some of the Second corps pickets, 
marched off to their corps head-quarters, and taken before Gen- 
eral — General — I forget his name — who, when I had explained 
to him all about it, ordered his provost-marshal to let me go. 
The general told me to hurry back to my old camp, where I 
would find my regiment, and change my clothes, before I took 
cold. I wonder how many suits of clothes he thought I had — ■ 
I say, boys, won't you pile on a little more wood, I believe I am 
taking cold." 

The morning after our return, nearly half the regiment 
answered the surgeon's call, and the names of nearly a hundred 
were placed on the sick list. Ten of this number died within 
six weeks, and many others never returned to duty with the 
regiment. 

Just before the battle — while our brigade was lying on 



-TJ' 



7-i HISTORY OF THE 124TH NEW YOBK VOLUNTEERS. 

Stafford Heights awaiting the completion of the pontoon bridges, 
I obtained from General Piatt permission to return to duty 
with my regiment, in order that I might have the honor of com- 
manding, in their first battle, the gallant company of men I had 
conducted to the field. As soon as the regiment returned to 
their old camp, I was ordered to again report for duty at brigade 
head-quarters. 

The third day after our return, I walked over to the regi- 
ment, and was standing in Company A's street, talking to one of 
the men, when I heard some one shout "John, dab.,' 1 and looking 
up saw coming toward me the little black scamp who ran away 
with my haversack, from the bridge at the river. He had just 
arrived in camp, and was the most woe-begone looking contra- 
band I had ever beheld. His eyes seemed sunk in his head. 
His black skin had lost its lustre, and was several shades lighter 
than I had ever seen it. His woolly pate, which had always been 
clean, black, and glossy, was matted, brown, dirty, and dead look- 
ing. His clothes were tattered and muddy — his corkless canteen 
hung spout downward, and his empty haversack was wrong 
side out. 

There he stood, the tears trickling down his cheeks, so pit- 
iable a sight that my own eyes involuntarily moistened ; and yet, 
so extremely ludicrous, it seemed impossible to refrain from laugh- 
ing. After a little, however, I irnt the mastery of both face and 
feelings, and said to him, in what I intended to be a severe tone, 
" You worthless, coward/// little vagabond, Avhat are you doing 
here, after running away with my food, when you promised so 
faithfully to remain with me ? What have you to say for yourself 
before 1 drive you from camp ? Quick ! if you have any excuse 
out with it." " Yes sah ; yes sah," said he, " I'se got a scuse." 
" Well then," I replied, " let us hear it." " Well sah— well sah— 
I — I — I'se afeared you'll boot me." " Boot you ? Why, there is 
nothing left of you to boot, But come — come, let us hear your ex- 
cuse. ' " Well, massa — massa, captain — I wasn't any more coward 
an you v\ ah" — and then he boo-hooed louder than ever. That 
was a flanker I did not appreciate; for in the meantime quite a 



SOMETHING MORE ABOUT FREDERICKS BURG. 75 

crowd had gathered about us, and among the number several 
officers from adjoining camps. 

"Well, now, Jack," said I, and this time in real earnest, "if 
you don't gh'e me some satisfactory explanation of that assertion, 
I certainly will punish you, and that severely. Yon ran away, 
didn't you, before the first shell had fairly reached the water ? " 
"Yes, sah." 

" Well, Jack, did I run away ? " " No, sah. r " Why, then, 
you black rascal, dare you tell me, in presence of all these gentle- 
men, that I am as great a coward as you are ? " " Well sah— well 
sah — you won't boot me ! " " Not if you can explain away your 
lying accusation ; but otherwise I certainly will." 

" Well, now, massa captain, I runnd away cause I d-idn't dar 
stay, and you staid cause you didn't dar runn'd away " 

I had repeatedly told our sutler that I would pay no bill 
which had in it a charge for liquors. When my monthly state- 
ment came, it was between twenty and thirty dollars larger than 
usual, and the entire increase seemed to be for one item, writ- 
ten " sundries. 1 ' I paid the bill. 

My tent at brigade head-quarters was pitched on a hill that 
overlooked that portion of Falmouth plains on which Hooker's 
Grand Division lay encamped. This hill was covered with a 
thick growth of dwarf U-ees and underbrush. A little way down 
from the summit was a cleared, almost level spot, some two or 
three rods in extent. At the upper edge of this clearing was a 
huge rock, the only one to be seen, so far as I could learn, in that 
locality. 

For a day or two after the battle, the weather was extremely 
cold; but the first Sunday after was very pleasant The sun 
shone warm and bright, and toward evening I made my way 
through the brush, and sat down on the rock to watch the even- 
ing parade on the plain below. 

A long, heavily laden supply train of huge white-covered 
army wagons, with six mule teams, was winding leisurely up the 
road from Aquia Creek, and branching off, in among the can- 
vas hamlets which almost covered the plain. Presently I heard, 



76 HISTORY OF THE 124TH NEW YORK VOLUNTEERS. 

off to my right, the notes of a bugle call, which, ere they had 
died away, were taken up — repeated, and re-repeated all over the 
field. Then fifes and drums and cornet bands began to be heard ; 
and there arose from all directions the mingled din of martial 
music ; while emerging from every camp could be seen lines of 
troops, with polished arms, forming on flying colors. A few 
moments later the music gradually ceased, the glistening bayo- 
nets disappeared, the colors were gone, the noise and bustle was 
over, and all was quiet again. In the meantime, the sun had 
sunk out of sight, and I was about to return to head-quarters for 
my evening meal, when my ear caught, from a distance, the meas- 
ured tappings of a single drum, accompanied by those mournful 
notes of the fife which tell the soldier plainer than words can 
express it, another comrade has fought his last battle and 
sleeps the sleep from which no earthly bugle call can wake him. 

Putting my hand to my eyes, and peering toward whence the 
music came, I discovered, floating so far away I could just dis- 
tinguish it, a hospital flag. At first I could detect no funeral 
train. Presently, however, I descried a small body of men who 
appeared to be standing still, but watching them a moment I dis- 
covered they were moving directly toward me. Then I sat down 
again on the rock, and waited to see where they would bury 
their dead. 

Naturally my mind reverted to that vast procession of 
wounded men I had seen hurrying away from the bloody field of 
Fredericksburg ; and I wondered was this poor fellow, now on 
the way to his last resting-place, one of that number. 

Slowly and mournfully onward they came ; until at length 
they reached the foot of the hill on which I sat, and passed from 
my sight, in among the trees and bushes. But the, to me, now 
painfully mournful notes continued, and were coming nearer and 
nearer. Soon the brush in my front began to rattle, and I dis- 
covered, just on the edge of the clearing, but a few feet from 
where J had been sitting, a newly opened grave. 

Instinctively I slipped over, and partially concealed myself 
behind the rock just as they emerged from the brush, and 



SOMETHING MOEE ABOUT FEEDEEICKSBUE6. 77 

halting on the clearing, put down their rough cracker-box 
coffin. The music ceased, and for a few moments the little band 
of mourners stood there in silence, with downcast eyes. There 
was no chaplain there to repeat the burial service, or offer a 
prayer over their lifeless comrade. Was there no one among 
them, to say just one word ere they committed their dead to the 
cold earth ? Soon their eyes, as with one accord, were raised and 
rested on their sergeant, a tall rough looking fellow, whom I 
noticed was the only one among them wearing stripes. Not a 
word was spoken, but the sergeant understood their appeal. His 
chin dropped to his breast, and for a moment he stood irresolute. 
Then stepping forward, he threw his hat on the ground, raised 
his face heavenward, stretched out his brawny arms, and while 
big tears trickled down his cheeks, with trembling voice prayed, 
" Great God of battles — as we bury poor Tom's mangled body, 
let his soul enter Heaven — Amen ! " 



78 HISTORY OF THE 124TH NEW YOKK VOLUNTEERS. 



CHAPTER VI. 



FOUR MONTHS AT FALMOUTH. 



ABOUT Christmas, General Piatt resigned, and I returned to 
- duty with the regiment. The last frosty days of Decem- 
ber wore slowly away, and the New Year on its arrival found us 
on the picket line. We were picketing then by brigades ; and 
ours had gone out two days before, without tents. The 86th and 
122d formed the reserves, and the 124th the outer lines, on 
which no fires were allowed. It was a bitter cold night. My 
company was on the right, and I was ordered to make the rounds 
of that portion of the line covered by our regiment at midnight. 
It was a watch night indeed for us all, but how unlike the old- 
fashioned Methodist watch-night many of us had been in the 
habit of enjoying at home, assembled with friends and loved ones 
in pleasant, well-warmed audience rooms. 

At the appointed time I started down the line, found the 
sentinels pacing to and fro with quick heavy tread ; their ears 
open to every unusual sound, and their eyes, as they wheeled 
about at the end of their beats, ever turning to the front; but 
their thoughts evidently were far away Promptly the challenge 
was made, as the creaking of the frost beneath my feet announced 
my approach. But the sudden halt, the quick wheel, and the 
stamp of the foot, as the rifle came from shoulder to port, were 
all mechanically done, and mechanically I answered the challenge 
and passed on. 

On the morning of the 2d we returned to camp, where a num- 
ber of the companies found awaiting them express boxes filled 
with "good things," which had been sent them for a Christmas 
dinner. It is true they were a few days late, and some of the 
dainties were not as palatable as they would have been had they 



FOUR MONTHS AT FALMOUTH. "9 

arrived a week earlier. They were nevertheless greatty appre- 
ciated, and partaken of in a most hearty manner by the recipients 
and a few of their most intimate comrades. Meantime a majority 
of the poor fellows, who had not been so kindly remembered by 
their friends at home, made the best of their meal of salt pork 
and hard-tack. 

The 4th of January was Sunday There had been no regu- 
lar services in the regiment for a long time, but it was generally 
understood that we were to have a sermon preached to us that 
morning, and the regiment was called together, as we supposed, for 
the purpose of listening to it. But our chaplain, after offering a 
short prayer and reading the 96th Psalm in a loud clear tone, 
excused himself on the ground that his lungs and throat were 
out of order. 

In the evening we received orders to prepare for a review 
At ten o'clock next morning Ave moved off, in heavy marching 
order, to the Philips House, which was three miles distant from 
our camp. Our entire corps, infantry and artillery, with wagon 
.trains, ambulances, pack-mules, and even colored servants, had 
been ordered to assemble there. About noon, General Bum- 
side, accompanied by a lady and a number of general officers, 
and followed by his and their respective staffs and a squadron 
of orderlies, appeared upon the scene. After riding along the 
line, this immense cavalcade galloped across the plain and 
ranged themselves in lines behind their chief, who took position 
on a little knoll about an eighth of a mile in front of us. Then 
forty-eight regiments and I think eight batteries, wheeled into 
column and passed in review It was a grand sight, but the 
most attractive feature of the day was the lady on horseback, 
many of us not having feasted our eyes on the fair sex before 
for months. 

January 10. From my diary Our new rifles are here. 
Farewell, old Belgians, welcome Enfields, say all. I never saw the 
regiment in such high glee. All are rejoicing, from Colonel Ellis 
down to the contrabands. Evening — the men have been busv 
all day cleaning their guns, and when they assembled for dress 



80 HISTORY OF THE 124TH NEW YORK VOLUNTEERS. 

parade there was presented as happy and proud a line of faces 
as one could wish to see. We have always been ashamed of our 
homely, heavy weapons, and the only remarks I have heard 
to-day, approaching regret that the exchange has been made, came 
from our little round-shouldered Dutchman, Billy Saunders. As 
"Billy dropped his piece on a pile of others which had been 
deposited at regimental head-quarters, he made an awkward 
lunge with the huge sword-bayonet, saying as he did so, " Boys, 
you don't know how much you owe to these old blunderbusses. 
It is my opinion that if it hadn't been for them you would have 
been tarnal nigh all killed at Fredericksburg. What general 
would be such a fool as to lead, in a charge, men armed with such 
toad-stickers ? " 

It is undeniable that the kind of arm a regiment carries 
frequently determines its position on a battle-field, and if the 
fact, that our guns were of an inferior quality had anything to 
do with our remaining on picket instead of uselessly dashing 
our lives out against a rebel fort, we perhaps ought to be thank- 
ful the exchange was not sooner made. 

It is now very apparent to all that if we do not take a decid- 
edly active part in the next engagement, it will not be our col- 
onel's fault. He evidently believes that he commands one of the 
most reliable regiments in the field ; and there is not a man in 
the regiment who doubts the abilities or bravery of their leader. 
General Burnside, notwithstanding the disastrous failure of 
his attempt to force the enemy's lines at Fredericksburg, did not 
intend spending the winter on the north side of the Rappa- 
hannock. 

On the 26th of December, the entire army was directed to 
prepare three days 1 cooked rations and get ready for a march ; 
but no further orders on the subject were received, and compara- 
tive quiet prevailed, until the 15th of January While out drill- 
ing that afternoon, we saw a long train of pontoons moving 
toward our right. And shortly after we returned to camp, 
orders came to send the sick from regimental to division 
hospitals. 



FOUR MONTHS AT FALMOUTH. 81 

On the 17th, extra rations were issued, and we were ordered 
to he ready to move in heavy marching order at nine o'clock the 
following morning. The night passed and nine o'clock came, but 
instead of an order to fall in, there came one postponing the 
movement for twenty-four hours. On the 19th we received 
another order, putting off the time of starting another twenty- 
four hours. 

It began to look as if the contemplated movement was to 
end as did the one we prepared for on the 26th of December ; 
and that afternoon we resumed our regular drills. But on the 
morning of the 20th, one of our brigade orderlies dashed up to 
Colonel Ellis's quarters with a general order from Burnside, stat- 
ing that we were again to move against the enemy, and fixing 
one o'clock that afternoon as the hour of starting. 

About noon we struck tents, stacked arms in company streets, 
and collected around our log-fires awaiting further orders ; but 
the}' did not come. Toward evening the sky clouded. Just 
after dark a storm set in, and we pitched tents again, and crawled 
under them. When we awoke next morning, the rain was falling 
in very torrents. The men were instructed to keep their knap- 
sacks packed, but none of us anticipated the contemplated move- 
ment would be begun until the storm should have passed over, 
and the muddy roads had become hard again. But about nine 
o'clock the rain slackened a little, and at ten there was heard, 
from all directions, the bugle call " Strike tents ; " and down came 
our muslin shelters again. After shaking off the sleet — for the 
rain was freezing as it fell — these were soon rolled and strapped. 
Then the line was formed, and we crept off through the ever- 
deepening mud and rain, and hail and sleet. When night over- 
took us, we halted, or rather, were stuck fast in the mud, scarce 
three miles from camp. The rain was still falling, and freezing 
as it fell. vVe were soaking wet, and chilled to the very marrow 
of our bones ; and there, in an open piece of woods, we added yet 
another to our already long list of nights of terrible suffering. 
Another day and still another night we remained, and all that 
time the cold rain continued, and deeper and deeper in the mud 



82 HISTORY OF THE 124TH NEW YOEK VOLUNTEERS. 

sank the stalled trains and heavy guns. Rebel pickets on the 
southern shore were hallooing across to our men on this side the 
river, " I say, Yanks, it is mean, of you to keep us out here in 
the rain; why don't you come over with your big guns ? We are 
waiting for you." 

On the morning of the 23d thousands, of men were set to 
work building corduroy roads. All idea of attempting to advance 
any farther was abandoned, and the one thought which seemed 
to hold the mind of our commander-in-chief, was, how to get the 
army back on high ground before it sank entirely out of sight. 

The roads were filled with artillery and wagons, sunk down so 
deep that the axletrees, and in some instances, hubs were entirely 
concealed. About noon the rain ceased. At three o'clock the sun 
came out and our regiment started back. As we came in sight 
of our old camp, we saw tumbling down the steep gravel bank of 
a railroad which ran just in front of it, our now highly prized, 
logical contraband, Jack Smith. He was grappling, and appeared 
to be in deadly conflict with something, but whether man or beast 
we could not at first determine. As soon as they reached the 
bottom, Jack, with an apparently desperate effort, and without 
letting go his grip, raised his antagonist clear off the ground and 
started up the steep bank again, but did not get half way to the 
top, when down they rolled once more, first one on top and then 
the other. As they struck the level ground Jack yelled like a loon. 

He was evidently being punished, and several of my men 
asked permission to leave the column and hurry forward to his 
assistance. But before they reached him Jack was on his feet 
again. And to our utter astonishment we discovered his antago- 
nist to be a piece of wood about his own size, and as we came still 
nearer we saw that poor Jack was as drunk as a lord. 

As soon as it became apparent we were to return to our old 
camp, Jack had started back to get things fixed up a little, and 
some hot short-cake ready against our return. We did not get 
back as soon as he expected, and while he sat waiting for us, 
several colored boys, from other regiments, who had with them a 
canteen of commissary, came along, and concluded to get Jack 



FOUR MONTHS AT FALMOUTH. 83 

drunk, th;it they might steal his biscuit. But they had miscalcu- 
lated as to the quantity of the dose required to completely lay Jack 
out. He drained their canteen, but was still able to keep between 
them and his biscuit until several of our men, who had been at 
work on the corduroy road and reached camp ahead of the regiment, 
appeared, when Jack placed one of them on guard and started to 
get the back-log for his fire, with which we found him grappling. 

In all the affairs of life, but especially in war, continued suc- 
cess, let the real cause be what it may, frequently makes great 
men of very meagre material , while defeat, if it be but once 
repeated, let the fault rest here or there, never fails to belittle a 
military leader, be his real merit ever so great. 

On the 26th of January, 1863, the army of the Potomac had 
a new commander, in the person of Major-General Joseph Hooker. 

As soon as the array returned from Fredericksburg, one regi- 
ment after another began— though no orders to that effect had 
been issued — to put log walls under their tents, which not only 
gave them an opportunity to fix up sleeping places off the 
ground, but enabled them to stand erect under cover. At the 
time Burnside's last marching orders reached us, we had suc- 
ceeded in making ourselves quite comfortable — in fact, were vir- 
tually in winter quarters. But during our absence on what is 
now generally known and spoken of by those who participated in 
it, as Burnside's mud march, nearly all these walls had been torn 
down, and the logs used in corduroying the roads. And on our 
return we found everything soaking wet, and the whole camp 
presenting a decidedly nasty, dilipidated, and cheerless appear- 
ance. But we soon got huge fires burning, the filth and debris 
partially cleared away, and our wet tents up, after the old fashion, 
on what had been our company streets. Then began the repairing 
and rebuilding the log walls. Before they were fairly completed 
orders came to change camp ; but no one complained, for we were 
to move to a much pleasanter spot, near a piece of woods, where 
rumor said we were to be ordered to put up first-class winter 
quarters. 

On Monday, the 26th, the same day General Hooker took 



84 HISTORY OF THE 124TH NEW YORK VOLUNTEERS. 

command, we pulled up, and moved off to our new grounds, 
which were situated about one and a half miles nearer Stoneman's 
switch. Here we again put up temporary shelters, laid out our 
camp, and set to work with a will, putting up comfortable 
log cabins. 

Part of the men were sent to the woods for logs, with our 
regimental wagons, all of which had been unloaded, and sent to 
us for that purpose ; while the others remained in camp, and put 
the logs in shape as fast as they came in. 

For over a week the sound of the axe was heard, go which 
way you would, from early morn until late at night. Rapidly 
the woods and forests of that whole region disappeared, and 
gradually there arose in their stead some fifty thousand muslin 
and canvas-covered log cabins, grouped in from three to four hun- 
dred miniature cities, each a petty kingdom, the prerogatives of 
whose chiefs were more arbitrary than those of modern potentates 
and kings. 

On the 29th of January, the regiment was visited for the first 
time by a United States paymaster, who dealt out to us all one 
and a-half months' pay We had then been in the service nearly 
five months. But the men, reasoning that half a loaf was better 
than no bread, received what was paid them thankfully 

The weather throughout the month of February was quite 
severe, and a considerable quantity of snow fell. But each little 
log cabin had a good-sized fire-place, and as fire-wood was handy 
and plenty, we managed, when in cam}), to keep tolerably warm. 
Our mud and wood chimneys did not always work first-rate. 
Sometimes they drew the wrong way, and the strong pine smoke, 
instead of going up, would seem to come rushing down, but this 
was only occasionally, and we soon got so that we did not mind 
being smoked a little. 

Immediately after General Hooker took command, large bake- 
rooms were erected in every division, and soft bread began to be 
issued instead of hard-tack ; and frequent issues of fresh beef 
replaced our usual weekly ration of salt pork. There certainly 
was a decided change for the better in everything, except our 



FOUR MONTHS AT FALMOUTH. 85 

long tours on picket. There we suffered the same as when under 
Burnside. But there was no help for that, and our occasional 
three days on the outer lines made us appreciate more fully than 
we otherwise would have done the meagre comforts of our camp. 

On the 25th of February we started off, somewhat earlier than 
usual, for our now quite familiar picket line at Hartwood. It 
was quite muddy The roads seemed to be breaking up, and 
occasionally as we marched along one of the men would step in 
a hole and sink down almost to his knees. 

After relieving the grand reserve, four of our companies 
moved toward the front, to relieve the pickets. Just as they 
started, a small squadron of cavalry passed out by us on a dead 
run. Presently they came dashing back, through a piece of woods 
just in front of us, in utter confusion. Several horses were rider- 
less, and most of the riders hatless. The officers were waving 
their swords over their heads, vainly endeavoring to rally their 
men. Every few yards a horse would sink into the mud, and in 
plunging to extricate himself, would fall with his rider, and 
together they would wallow in the mire. 

Of course we knew what all this meant ; and finding myself 
senior officer — Lieutenant-Colonel Cummins, who came out in 
charge of the regiment, being temporarily absent — I ordered the 
reserve forward to the support of our advance pickets, but before 
we reached them, a body of rebel cavalry appeared, and our 
vedettes opened fire ; at which the reserve, with a shout, hurried 
forward. The rebels evidently did not expect to meet any con- 
siderable force of infantry, for the moment we appeared, they 
went fours about, and dashed off as wildly as our cavalry had 
come in. In the meantime Colonel Cummins came up, and we 
formed line, ready to receive them should they return ; but they 
did not come back. During the day Berdan's sharp-shooters, and 
an entire brigade of infantry, were sent out to reinforce us. 

Our frightened cavalry, as an excuse for their disgraceful 
stampede, had reported a force of the enemy's horse at least three 
thousand strong, in the act of swooping down on our picket line. 
The truth probably was that a strong reconnoitring party, hav- 



80 HISTORY OF THE 124TH NEW YOKE VOLUNTEERS. 

ing come across our small body of horse, made a dash at them 
and accidentally ran into our infantry picket line. 

On the 6th of March our turn for picket came around again, 
and we moved off to a new section of the line nearer camp. A 
portion of this line ran along the water's edge, on the north shore 
of the Rappahannock. The enemy's pickets were in plain sight 
on the opposite bank, and we occasionally witnessed the after- 
noon drill of a rebel brigade on the plains beyond. 

During the month of March very little of especial interest 
occurred, and furloughs were granted to a considerable numbei 
of our officers and men. 

On the 6th of April the entire army was ordered to prepare 
for a thorough inspection and review The following day, after 
everything about camp had been put in the best possible order, 
and the clothing as well as the guns and accoutrements of the men 
had been searchingly examined, first by their company and then 
by their field-officers ; we stacked arms in company streets, and 
a sentry was posted on an eminence not far from our camp, to 
announce the approach of the inspecting parties. About three 
p.m. our sentry reported them in sight, and the regiment was soon 
formed on the color line ; but Colonel Ellis dimissed us, with 
orders to return to company streets ; and directed that every 
man get out of sight in the tent nearest his position in his com- 
pany line, and remain there, gun in hand, ready to spring to his 
place and hurry forward to the colors at the sound of the bugle. 
"A picket fence like that," said he, pointing to a regiment which 
stood with arms at a shoulder, in an adjoining camp, " is well 
enough, but I want to show these fellows that there is at least 
one live regiment in the army " 

In a few moments there appeared at the head of an immense 
cavalcade a few rods to the left of our camp, riding on two mag- 
nificent chargers, a general with his bright stars and double 
row of shining buttons, and a dark, tall, lank-looking civilian, 
dressed in black clothes, and wearing a high beaver hat At this 
juncture one of General Whipple's aids came riding at a break- 
neck gait toward our camp, with orders for the colonel to hurry 



FOUR MONTHS AT FALMOUTH. 87 

out his regiment; but before he had time to deliver his message 
the bugle had sounded, the regiment was properly in line, and 
the great Lincoln, with uncovered head and a smile on his other- 
wise careworn features, rode along our front, scanning our neat 
log cabins, peering into our faces, and chatting pleasantly with 
General Hooker as he went, As they passed beyond our camp 
and moved down a road that ran at right angles with the course 
they had been riding, they turned their heads, and looked back ; 
but their eyes rested on a vacant color line, the regiment had dis- 
appeared, or rather had been dismissed, and the men were scattered 
over the camp. 

The following morning we moved off some five miles, where 
a grand review took place, similar to the one held by General 
Burnside at the Phillips House on the 5th of January Our 
corps, now commanded by General Sickles, was drawn up in one 
line. Forty odd regiments of infantry, ployed in double columns, 
formed the right; nine batteries of artillery the left. About one 
hundred yards in rear of the centre of this line stood two thou- 
sand mules. These, together with four hundred huge wagons to 
which they were attached, constituted the ammunition, baggage, 
and supply trains of our corps. 

When the reviewing party appeared, headed by Lincoln, 
Hooker, and Sickles, riding abreast, many of the wagoners left 
their teams in order to get a view of the President, Suddenly a 
battery of heavy guns, stationed within a short distance of the 
wagon trains, began firing a salute. The very first report 
frightened several teams of green mules so that they ran away, 
and dashing against the others caused a stampede, w T hich spread 
until nearly half the entire number were dashing away in the 
wildest confusion. Pell-mell they went, the huge wagons occasion- 
ally coming together with a tremendous crash. A number were 
upset, and the mules breaking loose would quicken their pace 
kicking as they ran. Some of the brutes appeared to keep their 
hind feet continually in the air, and to do all the running with 
their fore-legs. Several drivers, who managed to get in the hind 
parts of their wagons as the mules started, were speedily tumbled 



88 HISTORY OF THE 124TH NEW YORK VOLUNTEERS. 

out again ; and John McGraw, of our regiment, and many others, 
were run over and severely injured. Not a few of the mules had 
their legs broken, or were killed outright, and a considerable 
number must have been captured by other corps or have gone 
over to the enemy At all events, they were never returned to 
their original keepers. The review, with this exception, passed 
off very satisfactorily. The next evening the following order 
was read at dress parade to every regiment in our division. 

"ORDERS. 

"Head-Quarters 3d Division, 3d A. C, Belle Aie, Va., April 9, 1863. 

" The General commanding desires to inform the officer and men of 
this Divison that His Excellency the President, and the Commander-in- 
Chief of the Army of the Potomac, were pleased to express themselves 
gratified with the reception given them by the various regiments, on the 
7th inst. 

"The 124th N. Y. V., the 12th W. H. V., and the U. S. S. S., were 
mentioned with especial praise. 

" By command of 

" Brig. -Gen. Whipple. 
( Signed ) 

"Henry R. Dalton, A. A.-G. 
(Official) 

"Ben M. Piatt, Captain and A. A.-G." 



CH.ANCELLOKSVILLE. 89 



CHAPTER VII. 



CH A NCELLORSVILLE. 



ON the 27th of April, our corps — the Third — General Daniel 
E. Sickles commanding, was reviewed by General Hooker, 
accompanied by Secretary Seward and a number of noted gen- 
erals and civilians. While passing in review we saw heavy 
columns of troops moving in a westerly direction. 

About noon on the 28th, marching orders reached the 124th, 
and at four p. m. we bade adieu to the now roofless log cabins 
which during the greater part of the time for months past, had been 
our homes, and marched to General Whipple's head-quarters, where 
our division was soon assembled, in heavy marching order ; deci- 
dedly heavy, for each man carried, in addition to his food, blan- 
kets, gun, and accoutrements; eighty rounds of ammunition and a 
change of clothing. About half-past four, the General and his 
staff rode past, and our division fell in and moved off after them 
in an easterly direction, passing as it went thousands of deserted 
log cabins. It soon became evident that the entire army was in 
motion, and that we had been among the last to break camp. 
It was very foggy, and we could see but little of what was taking 
place about us. Just where we were going, or what was to be 
accomplished or attempted, were matters about which we could 
but speculate. 

Gradually the foggy daylight changed to foggy darkness ; 
but on, on, we pushed, hour after hour until midnight, when we 
bivouacked near the Rappahannock not far from Bell Plains. 
We had not moved so far, considering the time occupied, but the 
march was a very severe one, owing principally to our long 
inactivity, and the monstrous loads the men were obliged to 
carry. And when the orders, " Halt ! close up, front," were 



90 HISTORY OF THE 124TH NEW YOKK VOLUNTEERS. 

followed by "Stack iirms " and "Break ranks,' 1 there was a mur- 
mur of satisfaction, and shouts of " Good," " Thank the Lord," 
and the like, from all along the line. Then off went the heavy 
knapsacks, and in a few moments we were rolled in our blankets 
and fast asleep. 

On the morning of the 29th, we were called up at daylight; 
and the men, after hurriedly gathering small handful s of dry twigs, 
started little fires and cooked their coffee. In the meantime we 
could hear quite brisk skirmish firing in the direction of the river, 
both above and below us. After breakfast we moved forward 
about half a mile, and halted in plain sight of the enemy's 
pickets on the opposite side of the river. Our whole corps was 
there, and we soon learned that it was supporting the First and 
Sixth corps, which, under command of General Sedgwick, had 
during the night bridged the river, and rumor said were then 
crossing: the First corps at Pollocksmills, some distance below, 
and the Sixth at Franklin, just above us. 

About noon we received a mail, and as night approached, 
put up our tents. The next morning (April 30th), the regiment 
was mustered, after which the following order was read to us : 

" Head Quarters Army of the Potomac, Camp neak Falmouth, Va., April 30, 1803. 

'■'It is with heart-felt satisfaction that the commanding general 
announces to the army, that the operations of the last three days have 
determined that our enemy must either ingloriously ily, or come out from 
behind his defences and give ns battle on our own ground, where certain 
destruction awaits him. 

"The operations of the Fifth, Eleventh, and Twelfth corps have been 
succession of a splendid achievement;;. 

" By command of 

" Major-General Hooker.. 

"S. Williams, Assistant Adjutftu.f-Unicntl." 

What had actually been accomplished by the Fifth, Eleventh, 
and Twelfth corps, that was .termed by our commander a succes- 
sion of splendid achievements, was left to our imagination. That 
they had caught, and were 'holding, Lee and Jackson, with the 
Rebel Army of Northern Virginia, in a trap, which rendered inglo- 
rious flight their only means of escape from certain destruction, was 



OttANCELLOESVILLE. 91 

taken with a grain of allowance. And the men were heard 
whispering to one another, '• I had rather see it than hear tell 
of it." But this order, on the whole, had an inspiriting effect; 
and the old enthusiasm and hopefulness with which we had 
started out on our disastrous fall and winter campaign, seemed 
to reanimat not only the 124th but all the adjoining troops. 
When at two o'clock that afternoon the bugle again called us in 
line, the men sprang to their places as if infused with new life. 
"Hi! hi! my tulips," shouted Ellis, "that's something like — 
you're are not dead yet, I see." Then we countermarched, and 
started off at a lively gait, moving back past our old winter quar- 
ters, and bivouacking, about one o'clock next morning, in a pear 
orchard five miles west of Falmouth. 

May 1. — Were up at day-break this morning, and after par- 
taking of a hastily prepared breakfast pushed on to, and crossed 
the Rappahannock at the United States Ford, which we reached 
about ten a. m. As we stepped off the pontoon bridge on the 
southern shore, we noticed, running along in front of us, a well 
constructed line of the enemy's earth-works, behind which a 
single brigade, it would seem, might have held the ford against 
any force that could have been brought against it. Leaving the 
ford, we moved off in a northerly direction about three miles, and 
halted in a white-oak wood. 

And now, while the regiment rests for a few hours on the 
outskirts of the battle-field let us take a look about the lines ; 
note the changes which have taken place during the eight months 
we have been in the service ; see how many of the nine hundred 
with which we left Goshen are in the line, and inquire as to what 
has become of the absent. 

Several have been accidentally wounded, and three or four 
have been captured by the foe. None have as yet actually fallen 
in battle ; but the exposure, privations, and sufferings of the march 
and camp have driven away the faithless and weak-hearted, 
while disease, brought about by the same causes, has not only 
weeded out the weak-bodied, but has taken away some of the 
brave and strong. 



02 



HISTORY OF THE 124TH NEW YORK VOLUNTEERS. 



Sergt. Peter L. Wood... 

John Robinson 

Thomas Keller 

Charles McVay 

Samuel Clark... 

Samuel Shultz 

Alfred Yeomans. 
Stephen W Brown. 
James Curry 
Isaiah Kumsey 
James H. Bertholf . 

Isaac Garrison 

Cornelius Allison. . 
Zebulon Hallock . 
Jonathan Force 



.of A 

.A 

.A 

..A 

A 

.B 

..B 

...C 

C 

. c 

...D 

. .D 

. .D 

.E 

.E 



Isaac Ferguson.. 

Charles E. Haxton 

Corp. William Decker. . . 

David Titsworth 

Jesse Terwilliger 

William H. H. Hunt. .. 
Charles T. Cornelius.. 

John H. White 

Corp. David Hovvland. . 
John Hatch. . 

William Shelp 

Sergt. Wilson Weygant. 
David Hepper. 

George Randell 

John M. Stalbird.. .. 



.of E 
.E 

...F 

,...F 

.F 

.F 

.G 

...G 
.H 

...H 

.H 

.1 

.1 

.K 

.K 



have been forcibly enrolled in the shadow)' army, and led through 
the cold waters across the black river, by the dread Commander's 
hot-headod recruiting officer, Typhoid, and his aids. 



Captain W A. McBirney. 


.of E 


PRIVATES. 




1st Lieut. \V. E. Weygant 


.B 






1st Lieut. James F. Roosa 


.. .K 




.. .of A 


1st Lieut. J. B. Stanbrough 


.. .1 


Henry J. Powell 


B 


2d Lieut. David Gibbs. 


G 


N. C. Hanford 


B 


1st Sergt. L. E. Elston 


.F 


Clark Coon. . . . 


.B 


1st Sergt. A. McDougal 


. ...H 




B 


Sergt. Francis Mead 


.H 


Daniel Babcock 


B 


Sergt. James McCollum 


.A 




B 


Sergt. John R. Banker 


.E 


John Ryerson 


.B 


Corp. W D. Millspaugh. 


...B 


S. Millspaugh. 


.B 


Corp. Win. G. White 


. ...B 


Charles C. Clark 


C 


Corp. Martin Mould 


.1 


John Sullivan 


C 


Corp. Edmund F. Allen.. 


...I 


David Odell. 


c 


Corp. Jonas G. Davis 


. ...C 




c 


Corp. Chas. A. Avery 


... .A 


Abram Merritt.. 


c 


Corp. Z. Dusenberry... . ... .. 


. ...F 


Joseph Helms. . . .... 


c 






A. H. Barton 


c 


DRUMMERS. 




William King. 


.c 


J. M. Merritt 


...of G 


John L. Goodsall 


.c 


W Johnston 


.D 


Daniel C. Jennings 


c 


James H. McElroy 


.D 


Win. H. G. Thorp 


.c 


Henry M. Cannon... 


A 


John Hagan. . 


.c 








c 


hospital steward 




George W Cabrey 


.c 


John Van Home. 




Daniel Halstead 


E 






Richard Traver 


E 


wagon master, 






E 


Alfred Gray 


.of D 




E 






Peter T. Stalter. ... 


E 


TEAMSTERS. 




William W. Drake 


... ...E 


Ezekiel Brundage 


.of G 




• E 


Joseph Gordon. .. 


.. .B 


John J. Stafford 


E 



CHANCELLORSVILLE. 



93 



William Decker. . . . 
Stephen E. Ostrum. 
George Dunmoodey . 
David B. Wheat.. . 

Josiah Garrison 

E. H. Garrison. . 
Nelson Dunlap. 
William Boyst. . 
C. A. Nelson., 
Lewis Williams. 

Thomas B. Peck 

W S. Cook 

C. W Merritt. .. 
Reuben Turner, Sr 
Reuben Turner, Jr 
Francis E. Merritt. 
Napoleon B. Odell. . 
Elijah Fentou. 
Stephen Decker. 
George Cripps. 
Thomas Vanstrander 
Charles H. Stephens. 
Charles W Evans. . 
Henry Kidd. 
Nathan H. Duffle... 
J. A. Miliken 
William B. Sherman 
Henry Seaman.. 




.E 
.E 
.E 
.E 
.F 
.F 
.F 
.F 
.F 
.F 
.F 
.F 
G 
.G 
.G 
.G 
.G 
.G 
.G 
.G 
.H 
.H 
.H 
.H 
.H 
.H 
.H 
.H 



Daniel T. Tears . . . 
William S. Brooks.. .. 

David Carey 

Eli Vance 

T. R. Van Tassel . 

Ira Barnhart 

John H. Brooks. 
Alexander B. Crawford. 

Patrick O'Neil 

N. C. Drake 

Reuben C. Miller. 
Stephen W Frost. . . . 
Charles M. Weller. . . 
David X. Wilkin. 
Jonathan Corey 
John R. Meehan. . 
Jonathan Acker. 

Peter Noll 

F. M. Werner 

Nelson Speer 

Gilbert S. Howard. 

John N. Rose 

Robert C. Leeper. 

Richard Romine 

Samuel Kniffin 

William Dolson 

Charles H. Acker. 



K 
K 
K 
K 
K 
K 
K 
K 
K 
D 
D 
D 
D 
D 
D 
D 
D 
D 



have been discharged because of physical disability, arising in 
most instances from disease contracted since they have been in 
the field. 



Corp. Benjamin Z. Bowen. 

James Lewis 

Nathan W Potts 



.of A 

.B 

...C 



David Bowen. 
George J. Thorn. . . 
William Twiggs. 



.C 
.C 

.c 



have been transferred to the regular army 

Corporal John L. Kalbfuss, of F, received a commission as 
first lieutenant in, and has been transferred to, a West Virginia 
regiment. 



Lieut. Isaac M. Martin of I 

Charles Kline ... . . .A 

Benjamin Lancaster A 

Samuel Green B 

John A. Space B 

Brice E. Birdsall B 

Corp. William White C 

John Burns E 



James J. Baker of F 

John W. Bennett .G 

Hiram W Degrote G 

John Studer K 

Henry J. Wright .K 

Alfred G. Randell ,. .. .K 

Gabriel Coleby K 



are absent without leave. 



94 



HISTORY OF THE 134 tit NEW YORK VOLUNTEERS. 



Lieutenant A. Whittenbeecher, of Co. E, has been dishonora- 
bly dismissed the service. 

Captain Isaac Nicoll, of G, Lieutenants Charles B. Wood, 
of A, and William E. Mapes, of B, and twenty enlisted men, are 
absent on ten-day furloughs. 

Captain Leander Clark, of I,* Lieutenant William A. Ver- 
plank, of E, and about one hundred enlisted men, are absent sick. 

Adjutant Arden and Quartermaster Denniston have resigned; 
the former in order to muster as major of a heavy artillery regi- 
ment, the latter because of physical disability 

Quartermaster Hexky F. Tuavis, 

Commissary Sergeant Ellis A. Post 
Quartermaster's -Sergt. Geo. H. Chandler, 
Commissary Clerk, Calvin C. Lutes, .of A 
Q. M. Clerk, R. Connelly, Jr .... C 
Private John Mdjaw.. .. .. I 

Wagoner Edward Ginner A 

Ephraim Stephens. .A 

" Daniel Morgan,. .. .A 

" Joseph Johnson .A 



Sergeant Horace Hammond. 

James Jones 

Charles W Davis.. 
James H. Clark 
Thomas McBride. 



.of F 

.A 

.D 

. .D 

. .1 



Wagoner 


Whitmore Baxter 


.1 


" 


David Barnes 


.B 


" 


Charles Godfrey.. .. 


.K 


" 


Thomas Burhans,. 


.K 


" 


George Morgan .... ... 


.E 


t i 


John Duffie. 


.H 


(i 


William H. Decker 


.C 


t i 


James H. Clark.. 


.D 


" 


A.J. Mesler. 


F 


has not 


yet crossed the river. 




Samuel A 


. White. 


.of I 


Nathan 1 


xl wards 


...C 


George K 


i n o" . . 


.0 




Zile 


.G 


Samuel M. Weeden. 


.D 



are attached to our division ambulance corps, which is not far 
away, and when we are led into action I have no doubt they will- 
be close at hand with stretchers to bear away our wounded. 



A bra m Hyatt. 
John Edwards.. 
John Gordon.. 
E. D. Van Keuren. 



.of A 

D 

.1 

.H 



David Wright.. 
James B. Moore. 
Henry Dill. . . 



.of C 

E 

..G 



are with our division pioneer corps, and may be called upon to 
share with us the dangers of the battle-field. 

* Captain Clark, though properly classed with the "absent sick," followed the 
regiment across the river, and remained at our field hospital during the battle, render- 
ing such services as he was able, to the wounded of our regiment, especially to the 
men of his own company, a number of whom have since spoken to me in most flatter- 
ing terms of the captain's kind attention, and efforts to alleviate their sufferings on that 
occasion. 



OHANCELLOESVILLE. 95 

Br. Marshall was left, with our sick, in division hospital at 
Stoneman's Switch. 

Surgeon Thompson has been ordered to report for duty at a 
field hospital which is being established near United States Ford. 

Chaplain Bradner is, I presume, with Dr. Thompson. 

Lieutenant II. P Ramsdell is aide-de-camp on the staff of 
Colonel Frankly n, our brigade commander. All others not 
present, or already accounted for, are on detached service ; most 
of them occupying what soldiers term " soft positions," beyond 
the range of shot and shell. 

PRESENT FOR DUTY, 

At the head of the regiment, waiting for the order "Forward ! ir 
stands Colonel A. Van Horne Ellis, Lieutenant-Colonel F M. 
Cummins, and Major James Cromwell. 

Adjutant William Bkonson, and his assistant, Sergeant- 
Major William B. Van Houten, are at their respective posts. 

Assistant Surgeon R. V K. Montfort, and Hospital Steward 
Isaac Ellison, with our drum corps, 



Arthur Haigli. .. .. .of H — Fife. 

Charles Whitehead of H— Fife. 

George W Dimmick of D — Fife. 

Henry 0. Payne of B — Fife. 

Robert L. Travis. . . .of F — Drum. 
A. J. Millspaugh of K — Drum. 



John G. Buckley, of H, Leader. 

George \V Camfield of K — Drum. 

John N. Cole. .. .of I — Drum. 

R. D. Stephens .... . . .of E — Drum. 

William Hamilton. . . .of B — Drum. 

Henry Hoofman of C — Drum. 

C. Van Gordon .of G — Drum. 



to assist them, will, as soon as the battle begins, be ordered to fall 
to the rear and look after such of our wounded as are able to 
crawl back to them, or are so fortunate as to be carried there by 
our stretcher-bearers. 

Bugler Moses P Ross stands, with his bugle swung across 
his shoulder, near the colonel. And now we come to the rank 
and file, and the officers of the line, standing at their proper places 
in front and rear of their companies. 



88 



HISTOEY OF THE 124TH NEW YORK VOLUNTEERS. 



< 






W 

.r. 



H 
Pi 

o 



1st Sergt. John C. Wood. 
Corp. W H. Campbell. 
Corp Robert C. Hunt. 
Samuel Yeomans. 
William Odell. 
Robert Potter. 
William Carpenter. 
Charles W Callow. 
George Sering. 
L. L. Jackson. 
John H. Dingee. 
Corp. Thomas Hart. 
Corp. Joseph Davey. 
Corp. John W. Taylor. 
Samuel Clark. 
Samuel Potter. 
Richard Rollings. 
Henry Arcularius. 
Jabez Odell. 
Jacob Lent. 
Joseph L. Simpson. 
Charles H. Valentine. 
Enos Jenkins. 
Theodore Smith. 
Corp. Abram Bellows. 



James G. Ciles. 
John Lewis. 
Joseph Brownley. 
Wesley Morgan. 
Newton Gotchieus. 
F. B. Gallow. 
Edward Rice. 
Robert Ashman. 
Isaac L. Conklin. 
Samuel L. Conklin. 
Daniel Ackerman. 
Jacob Wilson. 
John H. Warford. 
John Polhamus. 
Allen Owen. 
Frank Rhinefield. 
Joseph Gardner. 
Gilbert D. W Roat. 
John H. Conklin. 
Daniel Morgan. 
Jeremiah Hartnett. 
Michael Hager. 
John H. Judson. 
James McGrath. 



Corp. J. M. Miller, of Co. G. 
Right General Guide. 
Sergt. Peter Rose. 



Sergt. O. H. Whitney. 



2d Lt. Chas. T. Crisset. 



Sergt. Samuel T. Rollings. 



03 

M 



CO 



< 

H 

P 

d 



1st Sergt. John D. Drake. 
Corp. James Comey. 
Corp. M. Rensler. 
Levi Cartwright. 
Sanford L. Gordon. 
J. S. Crawford. 
George YV Tompkins. 
Judson P Adams. 
William V C. Carmer. 
J. J. Harrigan. 
C. B. Anderson. 
H. R. Broadhead. 
S. S Crawford. 
A.J. McCarty. 
Corp. Nathan Hershler. 
Corp. James H. Taylor. 
Corp. T. R. Allington. 
P. A. F. Hanaka. 
B. L. Tompkins. 
William C. Van Sickle. 
John T. Fisher. 
H. B. Appleman. 
Barney F. Kean. 
Corp. Charles Peters. 
Corp. A. S. Barkley. 



A. T. Drake. 
Reuben Doty. 

F. H. Rossman. 
M. W Quick. 
Ira Wilcox. 

J. Z. Drake, 
William Balmos. 
Jacob Garrison. 
Floyd S. Goble 
J. 0. Magie. 
Ransom Wilcox. 
James Carty. 
I. G. Gillson. 
Charles Roberty. 
R. L. White. 
J. M. Young. 
E. Coddington. 

G. W Adams. 
A. W Quick. 
Charles P. Kirk. 
J. N. Hazen. 
Ira Gordon. 

T. H. Jefrey. 
John G. Ogg. 



Sergt. E. M. B. Peck. 



Sergt. Chas. H. Hull. 



2d Lt. S. W Hotchkiss. 

Jeremiah Sisco. 
George Garrett. 
Edward Sharp. 
F. Rundle. 
Job M. Snell. 
W H. Schofield. 
J. Cunningham. 
Sergt. A. P Francisco. 



CHANCELLOKSVILLE. 



97 



P 



H 
O 

H 
P 

pq 



05 



H 

o 



Sergt. John Cowdrey. 
Corp. William Wright. 
Corp. Ebenezer Holbert. 
John M. Garrison. 
William L. Becraft. 
R. Quackenbush. 
Norman A. Sly. 
Joel McCann. 
John C. Degraw. 
John W Leeper. 
Norman L. Dill. 
William E. Hyatt. 
Corp. F. A. Benedict. 
Joseph Wood. 
Coleman Morris. 
R. S. Lameroux. 
Nathan Hunt. 
Abram S. Furshee. 
Zopher Wilson. 
Joseph Brooks. 
William McGarrah. 
Carl G. Hoffman. 
James Pembleton. 
Corp. Gideon H. Pelton. 



Jesseman Dolson. 

John S. Gray. 

Gilliam Bertholf. 

Benjamin Gray. 

George W Decker. 

William H. Tomar. 

George B. Kinney. 1st. Lieut. Daniel Sayer. 

John Hall. 

John K. Clark. 

Wells Benjamin. 

Joseph R. Ray. 

J. F Quackenbush. 

David F. Raymond 

Olander A. Humphrey. 

David Currey. 

William H. Callister. 

Thomas S. Storms. 

John Gannin. 

William Mann. 

H. S. Quackenbush. 

Daniel P Dugan. 

Thomas P Powell. 



2d Lt. John W Houston. 






o 
■4 



K 



1st Sergt. W W. Smith. 
Corp. William Wallace. 
Corp. Alex. M. Valet. 
Robert Wilson. 
James Partington. 
James T. Titchener. 
John N. Knapp. 
David L. Kidd. 
Nelson Foot. 
John Joice. 
William Whan. 
C. S. Allen. 
Cortland Bodine. 
James C. Haggerty. 
Corp. J. B. Chatfield. 
Coup. A. P Millspaugh. 
J. P. Wightman. 
Thomas Farley. 
William Hamilton. 
James S. Barrett. 
G N. Tucker. 
Henry Losey. 
George Weygant. 
Giles Curran. 
Corp. Samuel Chalmers. 
Corp. James A. Smith. 
7 



Sergt. Spencer C. Brooks. 



Edward Oney. 

Joseph Hanna. Sergt. Amos M. Eager. 

William Milligan. 

William Sutherland. 

John Hamil. 

Jeduthan Millspaugh. 

Rensalaer D. Baird. 

James Bovell. 

James Cooper, 

James Flannigan. 

Anson Hamilton. 

Nathaniel Jackson. 

J. H. McCallister. 

Newton B. Pierson. 

Alex. Thompson. 

David Loughridge. 

William Moore. 

Patrick Ryan. 

Smith Birdsley. 

William Edgar. 

Henry H. Snyder. 

Charles Lozier. 

Patrick Keane. 

David Storms. 

Henry R. Turner. Sergt. Charles Stewart. 



Sergt. A. T. Vanderlyn. 



98 



HISTORY OF THE 124TH NEW YORK VOLUNTEERS. 



O 



<1 



CO 



Hi 
Hi 
M 



H 

HI 



1st Sergt. William H. Many. 
Corp. Charles Knapp. 
William A. Homan. 
Duncan \V Boyd. 
Thomas Rodman. 
William Bodenstein. 
Frederick Dezendorf. 
Albert E. Bunce. 
Corp. Daniel O'Hara. 
Coup, William Mead. 
James H. Barnes. 
Clark Smith, Jr. 
Robert Rush. 
Samuel Dodge. 
Charles H. Goodsall. 
Daniel S. Gardner. 
Corp. Charles Chatfield. 



Sergt. Geo. L. Brewster. 



Samuel Lewis. 

Peter Conklin. 

Ephraim Tompkins. 

Morvalden Odell. 

Daniel Pine. 

Andrew M. Boyd. 

Albert Wise. 

John Tompkins. 

Wm. W Amerman. Sergt. Peter P. Hazen. 

John Thompson. 

George Briggs. 

James D. Tilton. 

David L. Westcott. 

James A. Ward. 

James E. Daniels. 

Daniel C. Rider. 



2d Ltetjt. Jas. A. Grier. 



Sergt. Thomas Taft. 



Corp. Samuel McQuaid, I. Corp. Ezra Hyatt, D. Corp. 0. U. Knapp, P. 
Color Sergt. T. Foley, C. Corp. J. P. Moulton, C. Corp. Dan. S. White, G. 
Corp. Wm. H. Hazen, B. Corp. G.W Edwards, A. Corp. W L. Fairchild, H. 



w 



H 
w 

Hi 



ft 



H 

HI 



Sergt. John Rowland. 
Corp. Theron Bodine. 
Corp. David Mould. 
Noah Kimbark. 
John Rediker. 
David D. Post. 
S. S. Youngblood. 
Milton Crist. 
Josiah Dawson. 
Charles, W Tindall. 
Charles Seaman. 
Van Keuren Crist. 
James Crist. 
Charles A. Foster. 
Corp. John R. Post. 
Corp. Thomas Bradley. 
Lyman Fairchild. 
Andrew Armstrong. 
Joseph W Delamater. 
Chester Jttdson. 
Thomas O'Connell. 
William Dawson (2d). 
James E. Homan. 
Francis S. Brown. 
Clark B. Gallation. 
Corp. A. R. Rapalje. 
Corp. Benjamin Dutcher. 



William Buchanan. Sergt. A. R. Rhinehart. 

Judson B. Lupton. 

Henry Mathews. 

G. M. Legg. 

William McVay. 

William Brown. 

Jesse F. Camp. 

Thornton Dawson. 

William H. Dawson. Sergt. William H. Cox. 

Jeremiah Crist. 

Charles A. McGregor. 

Edward Hunter. 

William S. M. Hatch. 

Grandison Judson. 

Robert Mocking. 

William Whiteside. 

Charles E. Brown. 

Thomas H. Baker. 

George Butters. 

John McCaun. 

Daniel W. Baker. 2i) Lieut. John R. Hats. 

George 0. Fuller. 

Abram Hawley. 

Jacob F. Jordan. 

Andrew Bowman. 

Daniel Carman. Sergt. Geo. B. Yonnc-blood. 



CHANCE LLOKSVILLE. 



99 



m 



p 

o 






H 



1st Sergt. T. M. Kobinson. 
Com' William J Daley. 
Curtis Ackerman. 
John W Taylor. 
Abraham Sogers. 
James W Parsons. 
John Scott. 
Lewis W Baxter. 
Theophilus Dolson. 
Edward Glenn. 
A. W Lamereaux. 
James A. Beakes. 
Corp. John H. Little. 
Coup. Hiram Ketehum. 
Coup. William H. Howell. 
Josiah Harris. 
Benjamin Hull. 
J. M. Coddington. 
Charles Newell. 
Charles Downing. 
George C. Godfrey. 
Henry M. Howell. 
Arch. Freeman. 
Corp Adam W Miller. 
CoiiP. Moses Crist. 



Joseph H. Johnson. 
Isaac W Daley. 
William L. Dougherty 
James Sloat. 
John II. Sarvice. 
William Mackey. 
Judson Kelley. 
Hezekiah Harris. 
Horace Wheeler. 
Charles M. Everett 
Charles J. Fosdick. 
John C Staples. 
Solomon Carr. 
Lewis Gardiner. 
Matthew W Wood. 
William H. Shaw. 
Adam W Beakes. 
Lewis M. Tonton. 
John W Hirst. 
Miles Vance. 
Simeon Wheat. 



Sergt. John J. Scott. 



George Nichols. 
John H. Miller. 



Sergt. William Price. 



O 
■fj 



<J 






H 

6 



1st Sergt. Lewis S. Wisner. 

Corp. J. R. Conning. 

A. S. Holbert. 

John C. Vermylia. 

John Carroll. 

Jacob E. Smith. 

John W Parks. 

Jacob Cameron. 

Alonzo Price. 

James H. Conklin. 

David IT. Quick. 

Egbert S. Puff. 

Corp. Isaac Decker, 

Corp. D. Carpenter. 

Stephen B. Kerr. 

William W Carpenter. 

Nathan M. Hallock. 

Samuel Malcomb. 

Cornelius Crans. 

Joseph Point. . 

John Skelton. 

A. W Miller. 

Daniel E. Webb. 

Corp. G. Van Sciver. 



Henry C Baker. 
John W Pitts. 
Thomas Kincaid. 
H. R. Mayette. 
Paul Holliday. 
J. McDermott. 
Sylvanus (frier. 
N. .1. Conklin. 
Wm. H. H. Wood. 
Patrick Cuneen. 
Michael Cullen. 
Isaac Kanoff. 
Samuel V Tidd. 
G. H. Stephens. 
N. B. Mullen. 
Ira S. Ketcham. 
Gordon B. Cox. 
John O'Brien. 
R. McCartney. 
Cornelius Herron. 
David S. Purdy. 
Alonzo S. Frost. 
W W Bailev. 



Sergt. J. J. Crawford. 



1st. Lt. James Finnegan. 



Sekgt. W W. Ritch. 



Sergt. W. T. Ogden. 



2d Lieut. Jacob Denton. 



Sergt. Wintield W Parsons. 



100 HISTORY OF THE 12 4TH NEW yORK VOLUNTEERS. 



A 
o 

H 

CO 
M 

A 

V, 

ft 









H 

CO 

Ph 

M 



1st Sergt. W. H. Benjamin. 

Corp. Abraham Denney. 

Corp. George W. Odell. 

Mat. Sager. 

Albert W. Parker. 

David H. Corwin. 

Grant B. Benjamin. 

Garrett II. Bennett. 

Peter Higgins. 

Daniel Riggenbaugh. 

Cyrenius Giles. 

William E. Cannon. 

Isaac W Parker. 

William Campbell. 

Corp. Lewis P. Miller. 

Patrick Touliey. 

Abram Stalter. 

George R. Fitzgerald. 

John M. Calyer. 

William Hauxhurst. 

Nelson De Groat. 

Francis McMahon. 

John Newkirk. 

George W. Coleman. 

Daniel Rider. 

Corp. S. T. Estabrook. 

Corp. Joshua V Cole. 



Harvey A. Brock. 
Selah Brock. 
Hector Finney. 
John Chambers. 
David Lowers. 
Gilbert Peet. 
W H. Trainer. 
John Trainer. 
Joseph Miller. 
Ueorge A. Griffin. 
Thomas Corbett. 
J. J. Taylor. 
Daniel Giles. 
Alexander Trainer. 
William Rake. 
James Roke. 
Walter Barton. 
William Jackson. 
William Tysoe. 
William Fosbury. 
A. H. Merritt. 
Eli Hughes. 
Joseph Jones. 
Oliver Miller. 
Wm. D. Dawkins. 
Charles A. Ensign. 



Sergt. H. J. Estabrook. 



Sergt. Robert Fairchild. 



Sergt. Isaac Decker. 



Cornelius Hughs. 
Charles Benjamin. 
John H. H. Conklin. 

Sergt. F. F. Wood. 



PQ 






m 



a 



A 



H 

o 



1st Sehgt. C. A. Wheeler. 
Corp. Francis Lee. 
John Eckert. 
Reuben Rynders. 
George Shawcross. 
Wesley Storms. 
E. M. Carpenter. 
R. J. Holland. 
Ezra F. Tuthill. 
J. M. Merritt. 
William Merritt. 
William Snyder. 
Corp. James Scott. 
Corp. Henry 0. Smith. 
E. B. Benjamin. 
Samuel Green. 
R. W Gardner. 
Samuel Sherman. 
A. W. Tucker. 
William E. Titus. 
Charles H. Bull. 
Harrison Storms. 
Corp. Harrison Bull. 



M. S. Holbert. 
Simon Bellis. 

D. McCormick. 
Joseph Bross. 
Herman Crans. 
John (ilanz. 
James Gavin. 
Jesse Hunter. 

E. N. Laine. 
George Hawley. 
George Culver. 
Wm. Liimereaux. 
Patrick Leach. 
Benjamin M. Little. 
William H. Lucky. 
James Odell. 
Hugh McShane. 
John F Brown. 

A. J. Messenger. 
J. J. Messenger. 
Joseph Pratt. 
S. Garrison. 



Sergt. Wm. Valentine. 



2d Lieut. G. S. Tuthill. 



Sergt. Coe L. Reevs. 



Sergt. J. H. Hanford. 



Sergt. R. R. Murray. 



Corp. S. W. Smith, of K, 

Eight General Guide. 



CHANCELLOKSVILLE. 101 

These are the Orange Blossoms whose metal is about to be 
tested in the double-heated crucible. This is the 124th, which 
is soon to moisten with the blood of its brave men the recreant 
soil of Virginia. Virginia ! birthplace of Washington. Virginia ! 
home of Presidents, for so many years ^honored above all your 
sisters, but now, alas ! sunk so low — under the crushing weight 
of that vile institution which has made of your sons of presi- 
dents breeders of bondsmen, dealers in human chattels, yea, 
traffickers not unfrequently in their own flesh and blood — as to 
be known by those, who aforetime have honored } r ou, as the hot- 
bed of treason, the home of traitors, the accursed theatre of the 
most gigantic civil war of modern times. 

The movement below Fredericksburg was a most successful 
feint. The manoeuvres of the First, Third, and Sixth corps in 
that direction, and of the Second corps, which remained in front of 
the city, completely absorbed the attention of the enemy, who set 
to work with his usual energy, throwing up additional earthworks 
along the threatened portion of his line. The concentration of 
the enemy's attention at that point made it possible for the Fifth, 
Eleventh, and Twelfth corps, to move off unobserved, and — by 
making a long detour and crossing two rivers nearly thirty miles 
from their starting point — to successfully turn the enemy's left, 
sweep down the southern shore of the Piappahannock, uncovering 
the fords as they came, and plant themselves on a strong position 
in the rear of Gen. Lee's elaborate works, before the minds of the 
Confederate generals were fairly disabused of their mistaken 
idea that the whole of Hooker's army was in front of, and about 
to make an attack on, their now doubly fortified right. As soon 
as this powerful turning column effected a lodgment at Chancel- 
lorsville, the Third corps retraced its steps, and, preceded by 
two divisions of the Second corps, hastened to join it. And there 
we were, on the afternoon of May 1st. not less than sixty-five 
thousand strong, in rear and some thirteen miles west of the 
enemy's centre at Fredericksburg. 

The 124th had lain in the woods but a short time when we 
heard, first skirmishing, and then heavy infantry firing from 



102 HISTORY OF THE 124TH NEW YORK VOLUNTEERS. 

the direction of Fredericksburg. A considerable portion of the 
army, under the immediate command of General Hooker, whose 
head-quarters were then at the Chancellor House, had been 
ordered to advance and secure possession of a commanding ridge 
on which it was said our line of battle was speedily to be formed, 
in case the enemy showed a disposition to fight. 

Now it appears that General Lee had selected this same 
position for a defensive line, and leaving some four or five brig- 
ades at Fredericksburg to confront Sedgwick, was hurrying for- 
ward his main body, in hopes of getting in position there, before 
Hookers force should reach it. The vanguards of the opposing 
forces came together on the coA^eted ground, and a spirited 
engagement took place ; but the Union forces were too strong for 
their opponents, and speedily, though not without considerable 
loss, compelled them to fall back on their main body, which 
soon came in sight and began deploying in line of battle ; a 
rather strong assurance that inglorious flight was no part of 
Lee's programme. 

This ridge was in the open country just beyond the dense 
forest which surrounded the cleared farm, which, with its some- 
what commodious brick dwelling, was known by the high-sounding 
title of Chancellorsville. 

Thus far every movement had shown unmistakable marks of 
a great military genius. Thus far unprecedented success had 
attended every effort, and officers and men began to feel that at 
last the Army of the Potomac had a head in keeping with its 
noble body But alas ! at this critical juncture — the moment it 
became apparent that the enemy had determined to fight rather 
than flee ; our leading star, which had mounted so high and shone 
with such dazzling brightness, suddenly grew dim. " Our giant 
has become a pigmy," says one. " Fighting Joe Hooker has lost 
his head for once, 1 ' says another. "Was he drunk?" whispers 
a third. Let us return to the narration of facts. 

The remaining troops were not sent to complete the partly 
formed line. Aids were hurried back to inform Hooker of the 
state of affairs at the front,, and to request that the reserves be 



CHANCELLOESVILLE. 103 

hurried forward ; but in their stead came an order for the advance 
to fall immediately back toward the Chancellor House. " With 
mingled amazement and incredulity " — writes Swinton in his 
Campaigns of the Army of the Potomac — " this command was 
received by the officers, who sent to beg Hooker to allow the 
army to push on, and hold the front thus gained. It was urged in 
the warmest terms that the occupation of that fine position would 
uncover Banks' Ford, thus giving easy communication 

with Sedgwick , that it secured the dominating heights which, if 
not held, would instantly be seized to his great disadvantage by 
his antagonist ; that it would take the army beyond the densely 
wooded region in which manoeuvring was impossible, and that it 
would enable it to command the open country on the posterior 
slope of Fredericksburg Heights, soon to be carried by Sedgwick. 
It was in vain these considerations, whose supreme importance 
must be apparent from a moment's glance at the topography of 
the region, were urged by his ablest advisers." Back the advance 
had been ordered, and back it came, followed by a shower of shot 
and shell from half a dozen of the enemy's batteries which had 
been hurried into position on the very ground they had vacated. 

About five o'clock that afternoon our regiment piled knap- 
sacks where they had been resting, and leaving one man from 
each company to guard them, moved forward through the woods, 
until we reached the open space, or Chancellor Farm, where we 
again halted and stacked arms. 

After walking around a. few moments I spread my rubber 
blanket on the ground, and buttoning my coat and wrapping my 
woollen blanket about me — for it was damp and chilly — lay down 
and listened to the fitful firing along our front. Just after 
dark the firing ceased, save now and then a report from the picket 
line, which ran along the edge of the woods on the opposite side 
of the clearing. The two divisions which composed the Twelfth 
corps were there ; and now that the strong commanding position 
to the left had been abandoned, an unknown force of the enemy 
was in front of them. Presently to the occasional sound of the 
rifle in front, was added the ceaseless chirping of tree toads from 



104 HISTORY OF THE 124TH NEW YORK VOLUNTEERS. 

the woods in our rear. As I lay there listening, and wondering 
what the morrow would bring forth, Colonel Cummins came along, 
and being without blankets, readily accepted an invitation to 
share mine with me, and' lay down beside me ; then our dog Jack, 
a regimental pet, crawled under the blanket and coiled him- 
self up between our feet. About ten o'clock, the pickets all of a 
sudden started a brisk firing, and raising on my elbow I looked 
across the field just as a streak of light flashed from the opposite 
woods, followed by the crashing sound of a volley of musketry ; 
then another, and yet another flashing line of light sped from right 
to left, and from right to left again in quick succession. And 
following right after and blending with the crash of musketry, 
came the thunder of a volley of artillery ; then another flash- 
ing line of light, another crash of musketry, a charging shout, 
a few straggling shots, and all was quiet again. 

Drawing my blanket closer about me, I lay down again, but 
not to sleep. Ever and anon I would instinctively raise a little, 
and scan the plain, wondering what it really meant, and was it all 
over ; or was what I had heard and seen but the prelude of 
something yet to come ? 

About eleven o'clock, I discovered the dim outline of a man, 
moving toward me over the plain, and rising to my feet I walked 
out to meet him. He wore the jacket of an artillery-man and had 
a bridle in his hand. "My friend," said I, "what was all that 
firing about ? " " What was it about ? " he replied, " why the rebs 
charged our battery " " Did they take it? " I asked. " Well, I 
reckon not," said he, " and I guess they wish they hadn't tried. 
You «see the word came in just after dark that they were mass- 
ing uncomfortably near our picket line, and our battery was sent 
out as a kind of bait, I suppose; then two lines of infantry crept 
out, and lay down behind us. I don't think the rebs saw our 
support, and concluded it would be a nice thing to rush out, and 
gobble us. We had driven out and halted there careless like, just 
as if we were stopping for the night, but before we lay down to sleep, 
with one eye open, our growlers were double-shotted with grape, 
and ready for visitors. Well, you heard them come. They pushed, 



CHANCELLOKSVILLE. 105 

right over our picket line, out of the woods, and rushed at us, 
firing a volley as they came. Then we let go. They were four 
lines deep, and we cut half a dozen swarths clean through them ; 
but they were grit, and closing up, made another dash for our 
guns, before we had a chance to reload ; but before they reached 
us, our infantry support rushed past, poured a volley point-blank 
into them, and with a shout charged them back into the woods." 

We were now some distance from the regiment, and bidding 
my artillery-man good night, I hurried back, and crawled under 
my blanket by the side of the colonel again. About midnight 
we returned to our knapsacks in the woods, and slept very com- 
fortably there until daylight. 

General Hooker had now abandoned the offensive. His 
defensive line of battle was formed in an irregular quarter-circle, 
some five miles in length. The left of this line rested on the 
Rappahannock at Scott's Dam, one and a half miles below United 
States Ford, and ran from thence in a southerly direction to and 
across the Fredericksburg turnpike, about half a mile east of the 
Chancellor House ; thence in a westerly direction a short distance 
in front and parallel with the turnpike, nearly three miles, to the 
house of one Tully, where the extreme right brigade, with a 
section of artillery, was thrown back across the road, at right 
angles with the main line, and faced directly west. This flank, 
though well posted, was left unprotected by either cavalry or 
advanced infantry pickets. 

The Fifth corps held the left of this line. The Twelfth corps, 
with Hancock's division of the Second corps on its left, and Bir- 
ney's division of the Third corps on its right, held the centre ; 
the right was intrusted to the Eleventh corps. French's division 
of the Second, and Whipple's and Berrie's divisions of the Third 
corps, were in reserve. 

Hooker's head-quarters remained at the Chancellor House, 
and in the open grounds about it several hundred wagons were 
parked. Early Saturday morning we heard heavy firing toward 
our right centre, which gradually spread along the front; but it 
was not of that furious nature which characterizes an attack in 

14 



106 HISTORY OF THE 124TH NEW YORK VOLUNTEERS. 

force. About the middle of the forenoon several shells fell 
among these wagons, and a few moments later the road which 
led toward the United States Ford, and ran past where we 
were lying, was filled with mule teams which were being driven 
at a dead run for some safe retreat. 

Lee was simply feeling our front with a few thousand men, 
and endeavoring to hold Hooker's attention, while his Lieutenant, 
General Jackson, put in execution one of the boldest, and as the 
sequel proves, most successful flank movements of the war. 

Through that portion of our line held by Birney's division, 
and leading south, ran what is known as the Furnace road, from 
the fact that about a mile and a half beyond, it passed the 
Catherine Furnace. Along this road ran a small stream called 
Lewis Creek. About ten a. m. some of Birney's vedettes, look- 
ing down this ravine, discovered crossing a bridge about a mile 
beyond what appeared to be a continuous column of troops moving 
toward the Union right. 

This fact having been communicated to General Sickles, who 
was never known to remain in the rear when any portion of his 
command was at the front, he sought and obtained from General 
Hooker, permission to push out two of his divisions and " look 
into the matter." Hooker, it was said at the time, inclined to the 
opinion that Lees entire army was in full retreat. 

About noon, Birney's division, supported by Whipple's, 
advanced, and Berrie's division moved up and occupied the posi- 
tion in the main line which Birney's men had just vacated. One 
of Birney's brigades, with a light battery, formed our advance; 
and hurrying forward, soon came up to what proved to be the 
rear division of Stonewall Jackson's column, and opening on 
it with their battery, soon caused those who had not yet crossed 
the bridge to seek some more distant route. Now let us return 
to the 124th. Moving out of the woods, we advanced with 
our division about half a mile down this Furnace road, then 
leaving the column took a turn to the right, marched a short 
distance in the woods, relieved some of Birney's pickets, and 
remained there until about three o'clock. We then formed col- 



CHANCELLOESVILLE. 107 

umn, and after crossing to the opposite side of the road, hurried 
forward through the woods for several miles and rejoined our divi- 
sion, which was in the act of forming line of battle, under the 
immediate direction of General Sickles, on the left of Birney's 
men, who were already in position ; having just before our arrival 
overtaken the rear of Jackson s line, and captured about five 
hundred of his men ; the most of them belonging to the 23d 
Georgia. The enemy's rear was now uncovered, and Sickles 
was forming for an attack in force, in hopes of at least capturing 
a wagon train, which was moving in plain sight. Other Confed- 
erate troops were hurrying back to confront us, and before the 
line was fairly formed, brisk skirmishing began in front of Bir- 
ney's division. At this juncture the 124th was again detached, 
and ordered to hasten to a thickly wooded hill some three hun- 
dred yards to the right, and support some troops there posted. 

We soon reached the hill designated, but did not find the 
troops we w T ere to support. We were, however, hailed by an aide 
from General Sickles, with orders to remain there until another 
aide should arrive to conduct us. The next moment the sound of 
heavy musketry firing came from the woods in front, and Ellis 
hurried us forward up the hill ; from the crest of which we 
saw, in the valley beyond, a portion of our division actively 
engaged with, and apparently giving way before a small force of 
the enemy Under such circumstances, Ellis was not the man 
to wait for orders. Hurriedly forming line of battle and placing 
himself in front of the colors, he ordered a charge ; and with a 
shout which made the woods ring again, we rushed through the 
dwarf pines down the slope. As we reached the level ground 
General Whipple, in person, ordered us to halt, and informed Colo- 
nel Ellis that our division was falling back, and directed that the 
124th retire with it. Meantime the booming of cannon and crack- 
ling of musketry came from the direction of Hooker's main line. 

We could not have fallen back more than a mile, when 
panic-stricken fugitives brought tidings of terrible disaster; and 
a few moments later we learned the enemy had actually turned 
the Federal right, routed the Eleventh corps, and was even then 



108 HISTORY OF THE 124TH NEW YORK VOLUNTEERS. 

between us and head-quarters. We, however, kept on feeling our 
way cautiously back, and just after dark emerged from the woods 
not far from where Birney's division had that morning held 
position in the main line. There Sickles, in the gathering gloom, 
as fast as his regiments came in out of the dense woods, hurried 
them in line of battle. He had now nearly all his artillery 
with him, and was soon joined by General Pleasanton, with sev- 
eral hundred cavalrj' 

The rattle of musketry was now close by, and the enemy's 
lines sweeping everything before them, were advancing rapidly 
through the darkness right against us ; and one of Pleasanton's 
regiments — the 8th Pennsylvania, about one hundred strong — 
was ordered to charge through the woods and check them at all 
hazards, that Sickles might have time to complete his line. The 
charge was made in gallant style and the Confederates brought 
to a stand , but in a few moments this little band of horsemen 
were swept away, their gallant leader, Major Keenan, falling 
among the foremost ; and the elated foe pushed on again. But 
the check he had received afforded Sickles and Pleasanton time 
to get their batteries in position, and when the enemy's heavy 
lines came in sight, over thirty guns opened on them with ter- 
rific fury For a time they withstood our shot and shell, grape 
and shrapnel, making several desperate, but unsuccessful efforts 
to reach our guns; but at length gave up the impossible task, 
and fell rapidly back out of the deadly range. Then Sickles, 
advancing through the woods, recovered a portion of the line from 
which the Eleventh corps had been driven, and presently came 
to another cleared farm, on which he halted, and then drew in and 
massed a portion of his command. Our brigade, however, moved 
on across the open space and took position in the edge of the 
woods beyond. 

The right of the 124th now rested on a road which ran at right 
angles with their line, into the woods in front of them. This 
road was the Fredericksburg Turnpike, or Orange Plank Road, 
for at that point the two are merged. The clearing behind us 
was the Van Wert farm. We were facing the west, and some wb ere 



CHANCELLOESVILLE. 109 

in the woods in front lay the enemy. How far he had recoiled 
was not known, and shortly after our arrival, I was ordered to 
reconnoitre this road and see what I could find. 

Selecting Sergeant Campbell and ten of my best men, I 
moved with them into the forest. The moon was shedding a 
dim light, the air had a sulphurous taste, the road was narrow, 
the trees were tall and stood close together, and the gloom was 
intense. Quietly and cautiously we crept on along one side of the 
road in the edge of the woods, stopping at every sound, and peering 
through the gloom at every shadow Presently 1 heard a groan, 
and a few steps further on, came upon the prostrate form of a 
poor mangled fellow. Putting my hand on his shoulder I whis- 
pered, " What can I do for you ? " In answer he mumbled 
something in German I did not understand. Sending two of my 
men back with him, we moved on, but were soon again halted by 
an ominous click. It was not the cocking of a rifle, for it was fol- 
lowed by a peculiar jingling sound. Waving one hand for those 
immediately behind me to remain where they were, and shading 
my eyes with the other hand, as if by that act some of the dark- 
ness could be shut off, I peered through the gloom, and moved 
on tiptoe toward a dark moving mass — it was a wounded artillery 
horse kicking his traces, which were fastened to an upturned 
caisson. Close by stood another caisson and two rifled guns, 
which had evidently been abandoned by the Eleventh corps in 
its flight. 

I left two more of my men in charge of these guns, and sent 
two others back' to the regiment. Fighting was no part of our 
business there ; to see all we could, and get back — that was the 
duty assigned us, and I found so many a hindrance rather than a 
help. Directing Sergeant Campbell with two men to move in the 
edge of the woods, on the opposite side of the road, and keeping 
the remaining two with me, we once more started forward, stepping 
ever and anon over a dead body ; while from the woods all about 
us came piteous moanings and dying groans of wounded men. 

There had been desperate work there. Two tornadoes of 
fire and iron had just swept through these woods; first. from 



110 HISTORY OF THE 124TH NEW YORK VOLUNTEERS. 

Jackson's men driving the Eleventh corps ; then from Sickles 
and Pleasanton, forcing Jackson's men back again. About forty 
yards beyond the abandoned artillery, we were again arrested 
by a clicking sound, but this time it was followed by the dis- 
charge of a rifle. The next moment Sergeant Campbell hastened 
across the road, and informed me that one of his men, Private 
James Gr. Ciles, having advanced beyond the others, had been 
mistaken for an enemy and wounded by his comrade. This 
unlucky shot not only deprived me of one of my bravest men, 
but warned the enemy of our approach, and made our immediate 
return an absolute necessity Picking up poor Ciles, whose leg 
was broken, and would have to be amputated, we hurried back 
with him, expecting every moment a shower of bullets would 
sweep down the road after us. Ciles insisted, as we carried him 
back, that he had seen the enemy's battle line just ahead of him, 
and that the bullet which hit him came from them. I did not 
attempt to disabuse him as to who fired the fatal shot, and did 
not at the time credit his story of having seen the enemy's battle 
line. On reaching the regiment, we committed him to the care 
of Dr. Montfort, who had not yet been called to the rear; and 
ordering the right platoon of my company to shoulder arms, I 
was about to move back into the woods with them for the pur- 
pose of bringing in the guns referred to. Just then bullets began 
to whistle over the centre of the regiment, giving us unmistakable 
evidence that the enemy was not far away, and Colonel Ellis 
ordered me to remain where I was until he drew in his line of 
pickets, and gave them a a fitting reply in the shape of a volley 
of Yankee lead." I of course hurried out one of the men who 
had been with me to call in the guards I had left with the guns. 
In the meantime Captain Murray, who had been sent on a similar 
reconnoissance, down a lane that ran through the woods in a left 
oblique direction from the left of our regimental line, came in and 
reported that he had come upon a large body of the enemy, who 
were apparently forming line of battle for an advance. A. mo- 
ment later my attention was drawn to a slight rustling in the 
road just in front of me, and a horseman rode up and asked, in a 



CHANCELLOESVILLE. Ill 

tone of authority, '• What regiment is this ? " and added, " Colonel, 
don't fire into your own men, 1 ' for at that juncture, in reply to 
another slight shower of bullets which passed over their left, our 
regiment, without waiting for orders, opened a straggling fire. 
Colonel Ellis, who at the time stood talking with me, stepped 
toward the questioner and replied, in a loud voice, u This is the 

One Hundred and Twenty -fourth New York, and by we 

will give them shot for shot, friend or foe." Meantime several 
other horsemen appeared, and drew rein in the shadow of the 
trees. At Colonel Ellis' gruff answer, this unknown officer 
whirled and put spurs to his horse, and the whole party dashed 
in the woods on the farther, or north side of the road, followed 
by a ball from Colonel Ellis' revolver and a volley from Company 
A. Just then a dark body of troops appeared, moving over 
the plain and slowly and silently inarched past our right flank, 
down this same road, and disappeared in the gloom. It was 
General J Hobart Ward's brigade, his regiments massed in col- 
umn of divisions, pushing a section of light guns ahead of them. 
They could scarcely have gone as far as I had penetrated, when 
the sudden opening of musketry, joined by the crashing thunder 
of artillery, told they had met the foe ; and for half an hour the 
woods in our front were filled with hideous noises, and down this 
road it seemed that some terrible monster was beating the gloom 
with flashing swords of fire ; then gradually all became quiet 
again and the night wore slowly on. 

But who was this strange horseman, with followers, that so 
suddenly rode out of the gloom, and on learning what troops 
were there, dashed madly back into the dark woods again, fol- 
lowed by a volley of fifty bullets, just as Ward's brigade, with 
two pieces of artillery, moved down this road ? Was it Stone- 
wallJackson who inquired "What regiment is this," and added, 
" don't fire into your own men ? " 

Southern historians and Jackson's biographers agree that 
it was in these night attacks of Pleasanton and Sickles, at the 
very point where these strange horsemen turned in the woods, 
that Jackson and several of his followers were mortally wounded 



112 HISTORY OF THE 124TH NEW YORK VOLUNTEERS. 

— by the fire of his own men, they say There was a supersti- 
tious belief, entertained by the bulk of Jackson's men, growing 
out of the fact that he had passed through so many battles un- 
scathed, that he led a charmed life, and no Northern bullet 
could harm him. 

Professor R. L. Dabney, D. D., of the Union Theological 
Seminary, Virginia, in his work entitled, " Life and Campaigns 
of Lieutenant-General Thomas J. Jackson," writes, referring to 
the circumstances attending the wounding of that general, as fol- 
lows : " Colonel Cobb coming to report to him 
found General Jackson near the road, busily engaged correcting 
the partial disorder into which his men had fallen; riding along 
the line, he was saying, ' Men, get into line, get into line. Whose 
regiment is this, Colonel, get your men into line.' " Let me 
repeat here what was said by the strange horseman who visited 
us : " Whose regiment is this," and then, " Colonel, don't fire 
into your own men." 

A little farther along in his narrative, Professor Dabney 
continues : " He was almost unattended and a mo- 

ment after rode along the turnpike toward Chancellorsville, 
endeavoring to discover the intentions of the enemy His antici- 
pations were indeed verified, Hooker was just then advancing a 
powerful body of fresh troops He was pushing a strong 

battery along the highway, preceded by infantry skirmishers ; 
and in front of General Jackson's right, was sending a heavy 
line of infantry through the woods. After the general and 

his escort had proceeded down the road a hundred yards, they 
were surprised by a volley of musketry from the right, which 
spread toward their front until the bullets began to whistle 
among them and struck several horses He therefore turned 

to ride hurriedly back to his own troops ; and to avoid the fire 
which was thus far limited to the south side of the road, he 
turned into the woods upon the north side. As the party 

approached to within twenty paces of the Confederate troops ; 
these evidently taking them for Federal cavalry, stooped and 
delivered a deadly fire. Several fell dead upon the spot, and 



CHANCELLORSVILLE. 113 

more were wounded. Among the latter was General Jackson.' 1 
And now a few extracts from a work, entitled " Chancellorsville," 
by Captain Hopkins and Colonel Allen, both members, at the 
time, of Jackson's staff. 

" General Jackson, while waiting for Hill, rode forward to 
reconnoitre ; he was accompanied by a portion of his staff, and by 
several other officers. When he had ridden some distance 
beyond his pickets, and was near the Van Wert House ; some 
one remarked, ' General, you should not expose yourself.' 
He was now in close proximity to the Federal lines, and on the 
advance* of their pickets he turned and rode, with an escort, 
toward his own troops. The skirmishers on both sides were 
firing as Jackson approached his lines ; he with his escort received 
a volley from the Confederate line of battle. The Federal 

line was near by, and advancing. Two pieces of artillery had 
been advanced on the Plank road, and were going into position 
not one hundred yards off. The General, having been raised 
from the ground, was supported a few steps by Captain Leigh, 
and then placed on a litter. He had been carried but a little 
way in this manner, when the Federal artillery opened, and a 
perfect storm swept down this road." 

Again I put the question, " Was the officer who rode out of 
the woods and asked ' What regiment is this,' Stonewall Jack- 
son ? " Let others answer as they may, in my mind there is not 
the slightest doubt of it ; but as to whether his mortal hurt was 
caused by one of the bullets the 124th sent after him as he rode 
aw T ay, or by that of one of his own men as he returned to them, 
is not so clear. This much is certain ; his fall was a blow from 
which the army of Northern Virginia never recovered. 

After this night attack, in which J Hobart Ward's brigade 
played so active a part, and which resulted in re-establishing the 
Union lines, Sickles reported in person to General Hooker at the 
Chancellor House, and was ordered to cause his command to fall 
back half a mile nearer head-quarters, where a new right wing 
was to be formed, mainly of his corps. At early dawn this move- 
ment began, but our regiment, which brought up the rear, had 

15 



114 HISTORY OF THE 124TH NEW YORK VOLUNTEERS. 

gone only a few rods, when Ellis, in obedience to orders, 
directed me to return with Companies A and F, cover the line 
from which our division had just been withdrawn, and remain there 
until recalled. Ordering them from the column and hurriedly 
deploying Company F and a portion of Company A in skirmish 
line at long intervals, and retaining the remainder of Company A 
as a reserve, I returned with them to the edge of the woods. 

A few moments later, I heard some one behind me ask, 
"Captain Weygant, what orders have you?" and turning around, 
saw before me, unattended and on foot, our division com- 
mander, General Whipple. In reply to his inquiry I answered, 
" Our orders are to remain where we are until withdrawn." 
" Oh ! no ! ' no ! " said he, " check them a little if possible, and 
then make your escape — if you can. Don't you hear them; 
they are already advancing ; " and drawing his cloak about him 
and hurrying to his horse, which I then discovered was being held 
by an orderly near by, he mounted and rode rapidly away 

He was right ! Looking down the road, I discovered that 
it was filled with moving artillery, and through the woods 
could be seen their advance line of infantry. At this juncture 
my weak line of skirmishers opened fire, but its only perceptible 
effect was to hasten the approach of the enemy who, without 
deigning to return a shot, hastened forward. Company F and 
the few men of A who were with them, stood their ground — 
never did a skirmish line behave better, or were muzzle-loading 
rifles fired more rapidly; but on came the solid lines of the foe, 
who, when I ordered my skirmishers to fall back on their re- 
serve, were not forty yards away. Stray bullets, evidently fired 
without orders, now began to whistle among us, and just as the 
enemy emerged from the woods in front and on either side of us, 
the men of my two little companies, excepting two poor fellows 
of F who were hit on their way back, came together in battle 
line, in front of them. Then for the first time I had visions of 
rebel prisons. There we stood, on the open ground, one hundred 
facing ten thousand. A single volley would have swept us out 
of existence. Glancing to the rear I noticed that near at hand, 



CHANCELLOItSVILLE. 115 

a slight ravine ran round a knoll, and whispered the order, " Every 
man for his life." 

Well — I had always contended, and really believed, that I 
could outrun any man in Company A, or F either, and bounding 
off' at a tremendous gait attempted to lead, but before I had made 
ten paces, two-thirds of them were ahead of me ; and before the 
enemy mistrusted we would attempt to escape, all but two or 
three of our number were out of their immediate range. But 
the dreaded volley, when it did come — though the leaden messen- 
gers passed harmlessly over the heads of the rest of us — caught 
our hindermost man, W V C. Carmer, of F, whose body must 
have been riddled. He was never heard from afterward. 

A moment later, Sickles' artillery opened in a most furious 
manner, and the shells went screeching past us and crashing into 
the woods beyond. Then the Confederate batteries, hurrying 
into position, began to reply, and the missiles from their guns 
passed so near our heads that several of our number were hurled 
to the ground by the force of the wind which followed them. 
We were caught between the lines, and the terrible Sunday 
morning's battle of Chancellorsville burst over us. Turn right 
or left, grim death stared at us. The heavens above seemed 
fdled with hot-breathed, shrieking demons. Behind us was an 
advancing sheet of flame, and the hills in front opposed an angry 
line of fire and smoke. Two or three times we halted and threw 
ourselves upon the ground, but as the Confederate host drew 
near, we pushed on again toward Sickles' front, and at length 
crawled in between his guns ; and with faces once more toward the 
foe, lay down witli loaded rifles to await such further duty as w 7 e 
should be called upon, or it might seem necessary to perform. 

Our situation there soon became more terrible than it had 
been between the lines. The knoll beneath us shook like a thing 
of life. The air was deadened bv the continuous booming; of 
guns, which covered the high ground all about us, and ceased 
not to eject the huge doses of powder and iron which begrimed 
cannoneers continually rammed down their black, gaping throats. 
Thick, stifling clouds of smoke rolled back over us, filled with 



116 HISTORY OF THE 124TH NEW YORK VOLUNTEERS. 

fragments of bursting shells which tore up the ground all around 
and among us, mangling the bodies of the gallant men of the old 
Third corps who almost covered it, and whose dying groans min- 
gled in horrid discord with the piteous whinnyings of wounded 
beasts and the shrill shouts of those who were conducting the 
fight. Soon whistling bullets from the desperate foe added new 
horrors to the scene, and then a bursting caisson lighted up that 
portion of the field, and turned to blackened corpses nearly a 
score of men who stood about it. As the thunder of this ex- 
plosion died away, I heard amid the tumult, in the familiar words 
and voice of Ellis, the order, " Forward, my tulips," and saw 
moving away through the smoke, our regimental colors. 

At the sound of Ellis' voice, my little band sprang to their 
feet — but not all ; some of them would rise no more until the 
last trump should call them. I repeated the order " Forward," 
and we started off at a double-quick after our flag, reaching the 
left of the column just as it was changing to a line of battle at 
the edge of a piece of woods, out of which a Union regiment, 
larger by far than ours, had just been driven. 

As A and F hurried along in rear of the other companies, to 
their proper position on the right of the line, Colonel Ellis, see- 
ing us, shouted out, "Good! good! Weygant; I was sure you 
had all gone to kingdom come; " adding, "let the little girls of 
old Orange hear a good report of this day's work." As he spoke 
George Wej'gant, of Company I, threw up his arms and fell 
dead just ahead of me, and at the same instant one of my own 
company, John H. Judson, with a shout on his lips was pierced 
through the brain, and fell backward out of the light of life into 
the gloom of death. Reaching the right and glancing toward 
the front as I dressed my men, I saw our adjutant, Will Bron- 
son, who was several paces in front of us, spring to a stump 
and wave his sword ; but the next instant a little minie ball tum- 
bled him off, and on one foot he hobbled past me on his way 
to the rear. 

Advancing through the woods directly toward us, was the 
23d North Carolina, supported by another North Carolina 



CHANCELLORSVILLE. 117 

regiment; both of which were under command of Colonel David 
H. Christie of the 23d. Thus far these Carolinians had swept 
away everything in front of them, but the terrific opening fire 
of the 124th, which was poured into their ranks when they 
were less than fifty yards off, not only brought the men of the 
23d to a halt, but caused them to fall with their faces to 
the ground to escape its withering effect; and the principal 
part of the immediately answering bullets came from their 
supporting line, which was but a few yards farther away. 
In less than ten minutes this second line was brought to the 
ground, and the men of the first line sprang to their feet again, 
and poured into our ranks a most wicked volley, which fright- 
fully decimated, but failed to shake our line — and so the fight 
went on. Some of our men grew ghostly pale as their eyes fell 
upon gasping and bullet-pierced faces of fallen comrades. Some 
cursed the foe as they bit their cartridges, and with single thrust 
of ramrod " sent them home/' And yet others, as they brought 
down their rifle, and moved their right hand rapidly toward their 
cartridge-box, for another bullet, turned their eyes heavenward, 
as if appealing for protection or success to the great I AM. 

The battle was now at its height, and the 124th was in the 
thickest of the fray, but not a son of Orange county was seen to 
show the white feather, not a man faltered ; deliberately they 
aimed and rapidly fired ; for not one moment did they cease pour- 
ing their leaden hail into the enemy's ranks ; neither did that 
enemy for one moment cease to return his withering, destruc- 
tive fire. Backward, forward, down, down, our brave men fell ; 
thinner and yet thinner grew the ranks, but not a foot of ground 
was yielded. One after another, our file closers, not needed in 
the rear, stepped forward unordered into the continually widen- 
ing gaps of the first rank ; and at last the enemy's double line of 
battle, unable to longer withstand our accurate deadly fire, gave 
up their desperate efforts to force us from the line and fell back 
out of range, leaving the ground in front of us strewn with his 
dead. But the bullets of unseen foes, coming in oblique direc- 
tions, continued to fall thick and fast among us, and soon another 



118 HISTORY OF THE 124TH NEW YORK VOLUNTEERS. 

Confederate line was seen off at our right, advancing through the 
woods toward us. Our yet deadly fire was instantly turned 
toward the new-comers ; but our cartridges were running low 
On the left of the regiment, Captain Murray, of B, with great 
streams of blood oozing from mouth, ears and nose, and appa- 
rently lifeless, was being borne to the rear on the strong shoul- 
ders of private George Hawley ; and Company K's newly 
appointed lieutenant, Jacob E. Denton, lay dead among the fallen 
sons of Wallkill. 

On the right, the captain of Company A having been slightly 
wounded in the head early in the action, had become so weak and 
pale from loss of blood, that one of his men, private Joseph 
Gardner, forgetting that dead men did not continue to walk about, 
was heard to shout, " My God ! my God ! our captain 's dead ! our 
captain 's dead." Lieutenant Daniel Sayer, of D, had been wounded 
in the hand, and ordered from the field, and Lieutenant Quick, 
of F, who had lead Company I into the fight, had, in consequence 
of a wound in the face, given place to young Crissey of Company A. 

In the centre, Captain Crist, of H, unmindful of the fact that 
his course up and down in rear of his company was marked 
by blood which continually trickled from a wound in his chin, 
was cheering his little company of twenty-four men — all that 
remained, able to handle a musket, of the fifty who, half an hour 
before, had constituted its rank and file. Of the thirty-four men 
with which Company C had opened fire, only eighteen could now 
be counted in front of the tall, lank form of Captain Silliman, who 
yet lowered unscathed above them. Of the nine brave non- 
commissioned officers, who constituted our color guard, which, 
under the immediate command of Lieutenant James A. Grier, 
stood between C and H and marked the centre of our regimental 
line, five had fallen; two of them while holding aloft the flag 
they loved so well. Lieutenant-Colonel Cummins was moving 
rapidly about in rear of the right wing, now shaking his sword 
and shouting, " Give them thunder, boys, give them thunder," and 
now ordering some excited wounded man to cease making a fool 
of himself and get to the rear, while he had strength to take him 



ch ais^llorsville. 119 

there. In rear of the left wing walked Major Cromwell, with 
sword at a shoulder, saying little but looking much. About 
twenty feet behind the colors stood Colonel Ellis, with folded 
arms and cap front turned up. His eagle eye had just discovered 
that ours were the only Union colors remaining on all that portion 
of what had been the Federal front which came within his view. 
Not a Union soldier was to be seen on our right ; the long line 
on our left had fallen back out of sight ; even the batteries 
which had been in our rear were gone, and the enemy's solid 
lines were moving past both our flanks. 

To have remained longer would have resulted in certain cap- 
ture and Ellis reluctantly, and for the first time when actually 
engaged with the enemy, issued to his regiment the order, 
" Fall back ; " at which Private James Bovell — a gray-haired 
man of Company I, who had already received three wounds, 
but yet remained in the ranks — cried out, u For shame, for 
shame, don't let's play the coward now. I'll stay and fight it out 
alone." 

Over a hundred of our disabled comrades had already stag- 
gered off, or been borne bleeding to the rear, and nearly as many 
more lay dead, dying, or helpless, along the line we were leaving. 
Steadily the regiment fell back, carrying as many as they could of 
their badly wounded with them. The air now seemed filled with 
messengers of death. As we crossed a little stream which rah 
a few rods in rear of where our line had been, I saw Corporal 
Joseph Davey, of A, who a few moments before had started for 
the rear wounded in the leg, fall headlong from the effect of a 
shell which passed near him. As some friend grasped him by 
the left arm I took hold of his right, and we assisted him to his 
feet again, but before he had taken a single step a shell burst 
just above our heads, apparently jerking him from our hands, just 
as a bullet hit him in the face, causing him to turn a complete 
somerset; I supposed he was dead, but the next moment saw him 
crawling off on his hands and knees. In the meantime Lieuten- 
ant Henry Growdy, of H, who had been commanding Company 
E, fell mortally wounded. 



120 JUSTOKY OF THE 124TH NEW YORK VOLUNTEERS. 

The regiment was now moving back quite rapidly, but their 
day's work was not yet completed. Coming to a road they met 
the disorganized fragments of two or three regiments, which one 
of our corps staff officers was endeavoring to rally for a charge. 
Seeing the 124th, this officer called on it, in the name of General 
Sickles, to retake the works from which one of our batteries, 
having fired its last round of ammunition, had just been driven. 
Ellis, with no other reply than '' Hi, hi, my Orange Blossoms," 
gave the order; at which our wounded were dropped in the road, 
and our gallant Major Cromwell, springing to the front, took 
position ten paces ahead of the colors to lead the charge. 
Hastily fixing bayonets the regiment once more, with a wild 
hurrah ! rushed forward at their foes ; driving them pell-mell 
over the works, capturing some, and opening a deadly fire on 
those who fled. 

And here, in the works they had regained, the sons of Orange 
County remained until, like the battery which had stood there 
before them, their last round of ammunition was exhausted — 
until everything in their rear was gone, and once more the flag 
presented to them at Goshen, by the Ladies of Orange County, 
and which Ellis promised the donors should never be disgraced, 
was the only emblem of liberty in sight ; while the stars and bars 
of the Confederates waved in front and on either side of them. 
Then was Ellis again forced to repeat the order " Fall back," 
and the regiment retired toward the new Union line which 
was being rapidly reformed a quarter of a mile further to the 
rear, leaving their route over the plain marked by the blood and 
bodies of yet another score of Orange County's bravest sons. 

Just before the regiment reached this new line, it came upon 
Meagher's Irish brigade, which, it was said, had been directed 
to prepare for a bayonet charge. They were lying down, and 
the 124th was ordered to form in their rear and support them. 
A. few moments later one of Sickles' batteries, having been 
resupplied with ammunition, took position but a short distance 
away. The enemy's artillery fire was now most terrific, and ere 
long another bursting caisson shook the earth, and filled the air 



CHANCELLOKSVILLE. 121 

with fragments of wood and iron, many of which fell among 
Meagher's men and some of them along the line of the 124th. 

The enemy had halted beyond the range of our infantry, 
and after an hour or so the artillery firing on both sides 
almost entirely ceased. But we remained on the open plain 
until nearly four p. m., when Meagher's brigade was withdrawn 
and the 124th moved through, and took position behind a long 
line of artillery which composed the apex, or centre and most 
advanced portion of the new main line. At dusk the enemy 
made a feeble attempt, with an inconsiderable force, to reach 
these guns, but was speedily hurled back ; and the bloody battle 
of Chancellorsville — so far as that portion of the Union army 
immediately under Hooker was concerned — was virtually at an 
end. Just after dark that night, the 124th was ordered out on 
picket in front of our batteries, relieving Berdan's sharp-shooters ; 
and there — while thousands of fresh troops who had not fired 
a shot, lay quietly in the woods in our rear — we passed another 
sleepless night. 

At daybreak Monday morning, we were relieved, and on 
moving behind the batteries again, were forthwith set to work 
digging rifle-pits. Here we were harassed continually by 
rebel sharp-shooters. Every few moments we could hear a 
ball whistle past, and occasionally a thud, which told that some 
one was hit. 

About ten a. m. Andrew M. Boyd, of Company C, while at 
work in the pits was severely wounded ; and before noon three 
more of our number had been picked off. About two o'clock I 
met General Whipple, who, on seeing me, inquired as to how 
seriously I was wounded, and congratulated me on my fortunate 
escape from the picket line on Sunday morning. He then 
walked on a few yards and entered into conversation with a 
lieutenant of the 86th New York, who was leaning against a 
large tree with his arm in a sling. Presently I heard another 
thud, and hastily turning round to learn if any of the 124th had 
been struck, saw the general, who was not more than five rods 
away, reel and fall in the arms of a soldier who sprang for- 



122 HISTORY OF THE 124TH NEW YOEK VOLUNTEERS. 

ward to catch him, and before 1 could reach the spot he was 
being borne away His hurt was mortal, arid but few of the 
officers or men of his division — many of whom had learned not 
only to respect but to love him — -ever saw his face again. A 
few moments after the fall of our general, Colonel Berdan went 
out with a small squad of picked men, and soon cleared the woods 
in our front of the enemy's dreaded marksmen, whom they found 
posted in the tops of several high trees. Berdan's men on their 
return brought with them, as trophies, three telescopic rifles, one 
of which surpassed in point of workmanship anything of the kind 
I had ever seen. 

Monday night we were permitted to sleep, but not undis- 
turbed. Several times before morning dawned the firing on the 
picket line in front of us became so severe that we were called 
up and ordered to prepare for action. But on each occasion, 
after we had stood under arms a few moments, the unusual 
racket died away and we were permitted to lie down again. 
Tuesday we worked at our rifle-pits, cleared up the grounds 
behind them, and pitched our tents. During the morning and 
middle of the day, the sun shone warm and bright, but .about 
four o'clock a heavy storm set in. At eight that evening we 
were ordered to strike tents, and for six hours we stood under 
arms in a drenching rain, waiting for the order " Forward." 
At two o'clock it came, and we moved about ten rods to a road 
which led toward the river, but it was jammed so full of troops 
that for an hour or more we could get but a few feet at a time. 
After that the road became cleared, and we moved off at a brisk 
gait, which was soon increased to a double-quick, and ere long 
to a run — if it be possible for a column of troops to maintain for 
five miles a gait which can be called a run, through mud ten 
inches deep. Arriving at the ford, we found there a multitude of 
troops. Two bridges spanned the river, across each of which 
two columns were hurrying. Hooker's grand army was in full 
retreat, and at two p. m. the 124th was back at its old camp near 
Falmouth. 

Having, since the commencement of the Sunday morning's 



CHANCELLOKSVILLE. 123 

engagement, confined our narrative to individual experiences and 
some of the most striking events which came within range of 
our persona] sight and hearing, we will now, in order to a 
better understanding of just where the 124th was, and what it 
accomplished at Chancellorsville, devote a few pages to the more 
general features of that — on the part of General Hooker — 
superbly planned but wretchedly fought battle. 

When, at early dawn on the 3d, General Sickles had with- 
drawn to the new position assigned him, Hooker's defensive 
line, composed of not less than seventy thousand men, was over 
eight miles in extent, with its flanks resting on the Rappahan- 
nock, and about three miles apart. Our pontoon bridges remained 
stretched across the river at United States Ford, about midway 
of the points on the river bank where these flanks rested. The 
Fifth corps, under Meade, held the left, and had thrown up a light 
line of earthworks along a portion of its front. The First corps, 
the largest on the field, commanded by Reynolds, held the right, 
with all of Howard's Eleventh corps that Jackson had not dis- 
posed of the day before, massed in its rear. The line of the 
Fifth corps extended two and a half miles ; that of the First 
corps about three and a half miles. The right of the Fifth 
corps and the left of the First corps rested within half a mile of 
each other. They were in form of a letter V with the point cut 
off, thus v. About half a mile in front of the smaller opening 
stood the Chancellor House. The centre — composed of the Third 
corps under Sickles, the Twelfth corps under Slocum, and Han- 
cock's and French's divisions of Couch's Second corps — was thrust 
out around the Chancellor House nearly in the form of three sides 
of a square. The left of the Second corps connected with the 
right of the Fifth, and was faced toward the east. The left of 
the Twelfth corps connected with the right of the Second, and 
was faced toward the south. The left of the Third corps con- 
nected with the right of the Twelfth, faced toward the west, and 
was evidently regarded by Hooker as virtually the right of his 
main line. Sickles 1 extreme right flank rested about one mile in 



124 HISTOKY OF THE 124TH NEW YOEK VOLUNTEERS. 

advance and west of the left flank of the First corps, which was 
considered in reserve. 

The battle consisted technically in Lee's driving this extended 
three-sided centre back, through, and into the opening between 
the First and Fifth corps. For the accomplishing of this object 
the Confederate attacking line was, during the latter part of the 
night, disposed in front of the Union centre as follows : Drawn 
up in a single line, and facing the Second and Twelfth corps, 
were the divisions of McLaws and Anderson. These two divis- 
ions were about equal in numbers to the Federal corps they 
confronted. 

Fifteen brigades — composed of seventy powerful regiments of 
Jackson's corps, numbering upward of thirty thousand men, now 
commanded by General Stuart — were formed in three lines for 
an attack in force, in the woods in front of the Third corps, which 
consisted of less than fifteen thousand men. Sickles' front, 
which it will be remembered was not fully formed until after 
Stuart had begun to advance, was composed of the divisions of 
Birney and Berry, and one brigade of Whipple's division. 
Whipple's second brigade, which was composed of Berdan's two 
small regiments of sharp-shooters, numbering all told less than 
five hundred men, was deployed in a skirmish line which con- 
nected with the right flank of Sickles' battle line, and ran 
toward the left flank of the First corps. Whipple's remaining 
brigade, to which the 124th belonged, was drawn up as a 
reserve. 

The battle opened with the impetuous advance of Jackson's 
corps at four a. m. As soon as his triple line arrived in Sickles' 
immediate front, Stuart discovered the break in the Union 
line, which left the right flank of the Third corps exposed; and 
forthwith, while pressing the attack in front, hurried Iverson's 
brigade forward from his rear line, and hurling it against this 
exposed flank, forced back with considerable loss a portion of 
Sickles' extreme right brigade. It was at this juncture, and to 
meet this flank attack, that our brigade was hurried forward, 
and formed in line of battle at right angles with, and thrown 



CHANCELLOESVILLE. 125 

back from Sickles' front; nnd the 124th became engaged with 
the two regiments of Iverson's brigade, under command of Colo- 
nel David H. Christie. 

The first duty to be performed by Stuart's column, was the 
forcing of Sickles from his strong position — which would render 
that portion of the line held by the Second and Twelfth corps 
untenable. This, with the assistance of several brigades from in 
front of Couch and Slocum, he finally accomplished, after a most 
desperate four hours' struggle, in which, according to reliable 
Southern accounts, Jackson's corps alone lost seven thousand 
men. Throughout this desperate struggle, though three corps 
remained inactive and Sickles repeatedly called for help, not a 
man was sent to his assistance. And at last, when half his 
regiments and nearly every one of his batteries had run out 
of ammunition, his shattered line gave way, and the Second 
and Twelfth corps were speedily forced, with heavy loss, to 
follow it. 

" At dawn," writes Colonel Allen, Jackson's chief of ord- 
nance, " Archer and McGowen were ordered to move forward 
They became almost immediately engaged, and General 
Stuart, without waiting further, ordered the whole corps to attack. 
Soon the battle became general along the whole line. 
Sickles extended to the creek, and held the elevated plateau at 
Hazel Grove." And then, after detailing at length the tide of 
battle on Sickles' left and centre, and referring to the first suc- 
cesses of Colonels Hall and Christie, with portions of Rhodes' 
and Iverson's brigades on the Federal right, continues : " The 
Union troops now quickly concentrated their fire. and 

Hall and Christie were forced back with heavy loss. The 

flower of Sickles' corps long and stoutly resisted the Confederate 
advance. The batteries at Fairview poured a ceaseless storm 
of shell and case into the attacking column." 

Professor Dabney, in his Life of Jackson, writes, " When the 
general onset was ordered by Stuart, the Stonewall brigade 
advanced, with the cry, e Charge ; and remember Jackson.' Even 
as they moved from their position, their general, Paxton, was 



126 HISTORY OF THE 124TII NEW YORK VOLUNTEERS. 

struck dead where he stood. In three hours seven thou- 

sand men were killed and wounded from the corps." 

It is conceded by all historians, that the severest and princi- 
pal part of the fighting at Chancellorsville, on Sunday, was done 
by Jackson's corps under Stuart, on the one side, and the Third 
corps, under Sickles, on the other. The loss of the Third corps 
in killed and wounded on Saturday and Sunday, was a trifle over 
four thousand men. It lost no prisoners, except some of its 
severely wounded, who are included in the above four thousand. 
It lost no battle flags and brought off every piece of its artillery 
It inflicted on the enemy a much heavier loss in killed and 
wounded than it received. It captured seven of his battle flags, 
over a thousand of his able-bodied prisoners, and recovered at 
least two of the guns lost by the Eleventh corps. 

After the Sunday morning's battle had ended, Hooker had 
drawn up in an almost faultless line nearly sixty thousand troops, 
half of whom had not been called upon to fire a shot; while Lee 
could not have mustered in front of him thirty thousand able- 
bodied men, and yet Hooker remained inactive for two days, 
and allowed Lee to move off to Fredericksburg with the bulk of 
his shattered army, and assist the troops which had been left 
there in dealinsr a stao-a-erinar blow to Sedgwick's detached Sixth 
corps. Strangely conducted battle ! With seventy thousand 
troops about Chancellorsville not over twenty-five thousand 
engaged, and these drawn out in a single line, and not relieved 
or reinforced from the beginning of the battle until its close. 
The enemy allowed to outnumber us in the fight two to one 
while w r e in reality had double his numbers in the field. 

Surely, taking the Third corps with its civilian general as a 
sample, Hooker told the truth when he said he had under him 
the finest army on the planet. But what shall that army say of 
its general ? Simply what was said of Burnside ? Shall we say 
of Hooker that he had waded beyond his depth — could command 
a corps but not an army ? Yes ! if you will ; let it go at that. 
The result must ever remain the same, let the cause be what it 
may. A hundred thousand whipped by fifty thousand was it ? 



CHANCELLORS VILLE. 



127 



No ! no ! Rather say twenty-five thousand holding off, heating 
back with terrible slaughter, fifty thousand, hour after hour ; 
until at last their ammunition gives out and they are compelled 
to retire to their inner lines to replenish, while forty-five thou- 
sand stand idly looking on — not of their own accord, but simply 
because he who commands them will not order f;hem forward. 
The Army of the Potomac, defeated by the Army of Northern Vir- 
ginia was it ? No ! Hooker whipped by Lee, shall we say ? Yes ! 
There will be found recorded elsewhere in this work, such 
interesting facts as I have been able to collect, concerning the 
wounding, suffering, death, or personal experiences of each indi- 
vidual whose name appears in the following 



LIST OF KILLED, WOUNDED, AXD MISSIXG OF THE 124TH 
AT THE BATTLE OF CHAXCELLOKS VILLE. 

Adjutant William Broxsox, woundtd. 



Killed. 
James G. Giles. 
Jolm H. Jndson. 
William Odell. 

Wounded. 
Capt. C. H. Weygant. 



COMPANY A. 

Sergt. S. T. Rollings. 
Seegt. Peter Rose. 
CORP. Joseph Davey. 
Corp. John W Taylor. 
Coup. Abrain Bellows. 
Richard Rollings. 
Henry Arcularius. 



John H. Warford. 
Newton Gotchieus. 
Robert Potter. 

Missing, 
John Lewis. 



Killed. 
Corp. A. S. Barkley. 
William V C. Carmer. 
P A. F. Hanaka. 
Barney F. Kean. 
A. J. McCarty. 
Ira Wilcox. 
T. H. Jefrey. 



Killed. 
Corp, F. A. Benedict. 
Zoplier Wilson. 
Joseph Brooks. 

Wounded. 
Lieut. Daniel Sayer. 



COMPANY F. 
John G. Ogg. 

Wounded 
Lieut. T. J. Quick. 
Corp. Charles Peters. 
C. B. Anderson. 
H. R. Broadhead. 
J. Cunningham." 

COMPANY D. 

Jesseniah Dolson. 
John M. Garrison. 
William L. Becraft. 
George W Decker. 
William H. Tomar. 
Norman L. Dill. 
John K. Clark. 



Reuben Doty. 
Jacob Garrison. 
Job M. Snell. 
Charles P. Kirk. 
John T. Fisher. 
I. G. Gillson. 
G. W Adams. 



Joel McCann. 
J. F. Quackenbush. 
Coleman Morris. 
Olander A. Humphrey. 
William McGarrah. 
Carl (J. Hoffman. 
Daniel P. Duaran. 



128 HISTORY OF THE 124TH NEW YORK VOLUNTEERS. 



Killed. 
Corp. Willirtrn Wallace. 
Cortland Bodine. 
J. P Wightman. 
George Weygant. 
William Hamilton. 
James Cooper. 

Wounded,. 
Sergt. Charles Stewart. 



COMPANY I. 

Corp. Samuel McQuaid. 
Corp. A. P Millspaugh. 
James C. Haggerty. 
Joseph Hanna. 
William Milligan. 
John Hamil. 
Jeduthan Millspaugh. 
Kensalaer D. Baird. 
James Bovell. 



Robert Wilson. 
James S. Barrett. 
David Storms. 
Patrick Ryan. 
David Loughridge. 
J. H. McCallister. 
Anson Hamilton. 



Killed. 
Color Sergt. T. Foley. 
Corp. Charles Chatfield. 
James H. Barnes". 
Robert Rush. 
Samuel Dodge. 
Charles H. Goodsall. 
James D. Tilton. 
David L. Westcott. 



COMPANY C. 

James A. Ward. 

Wounded. 
Corp. Charles Knapp. 
Corp. Daniel O'Hara. 
Thomas Rodman. 
William Bodenstein. 
Frederick Dezendorf. 
Peter Conklin. 
Ephraim Tompkins. 



Andrew M. Boyd. 
Albert Wise. 
John Thompson. 
Daniel S. Gardner. 
James E. Daniels. 
John W Foley. 

Minxing. 
Clark Smith, Jr. 



Killed. 
Lieut. Henry Gowdy. 
Segt. John Rowland. 
Sergt. A. R, Rhinehart. 
Corp W L. Fairchild. 
Corp. David Mould. 
George O. Fuller. 
Charles A. Foster. 
Joseph W Delamater. 
Van Keuren Crist. 



COMPANY H. 

Wounded. 
Capt. David Crist. 
Sergt. William H. Cox. 
Corp. Theron Bodine. 
Corp. Benjamin Dutcher. 
Corp. John R. Post. 
Noah Kimbark. 
David D. Post. 
S. S. Youngblood. 
Henry Mathews. 
William Brown. 



Charles Seaman. 
Charles A. McGregor. 
Josiah Dawson. 
Thomas H. Baker. 
Grandison Judson. 
James Crist. 
John McCann. 
Abram Hawley. 
Andrew Bowman. 
Daniel Carman. 



Killed. 
Corp. Wm. J. Daley. 
Josiah Harris. 
Charles Newell. 
John C. Staples. 



COMPANY E. 

Wounded. 
1st Sergt. T. M. Robinson. 
Sergt. William Price. 
Corp. Hiram Ketchum. 
Corp. Adam W. Miller. 
Corp. Moses Crist. 



Abraham Rogers. 
Edward Glenn. 
William L. Dougherty. 
Charles M. Everett 
Adam W. Beakes. 
Judson Kelley. 



CHAN CELLO RSVILLK. 



129 



Killed. 
Lieut. Jacob Denton. 
Gordon B. Cox. 
N. B. Mullen. 
A. W Miller. 

Wounded. 
1st Sekgt. L. S. Wisner. 
Sekgt. W T. Ogden. 
Corp. D. Carpenter. 
Corp. G. Van Stiver. 



Killed. 
Sergt. F. F. Wood. 
George W Coleman. 
Eli Hughes. 
William Rake. 
William Hauxhurst. 
Peter Higgins> 



COMPANY K. 

Corp. S. W Smith. 
Alonzo Price. 
Jacob B. Smith. 
David IT. Quick. 
Egbert S. Puff. 
Stephen B. Kerr. 
Samuel Malcomb. 
Cornelius Crans. 
Daniel E. Webb. 
John, O'Brien. 
R. McCartney. 

COMPANY G. 

Wounded. 
Sergt. H. J. Estabrook. 
Corp. Daniel S. White. 
Corp. George W Odell. 
Corp. Lewis P- Miller. 
Corp. Alexander Jones.* 
Patrick Touhey. 
Abram Stalter. 
William Fosbury. 



Cornelius Herron. 
W. W Bailey. 
Sylvanus Grier. 
N. J. Conklin. 
Wm. H. H. Wood. 
Paul Holliday. 
John W Pitts. 



Missing. 
John W Parks. 



John M. Calyer. 
Cyrenius Giles. 
William E. Cannon. 
Alexander Trainer. 
Joseph Miller. 
Hector Finney. 

Missing. 
Corp. S. T. Estabrook. 
Grant B. Benjamin. 



Killed. 

Sergt. Wm. Valentine. 
Corp. Henry 0. Smith. 
George Shawcross. 
William Snyder. 
E. N. Laine. 



COMPANY B. 

Wounded. 
Capt. H. S. Murray. 
Sergt. R. R. Murray. 
Sergt. Coe L. Reevs 
R. J. Holland. 
Ezra F. Tuthill. 
Hugh McShane. 



George Culver. 
Herman Crans. 
A. J. Messenger. 
J. J. Messenger. 
D. McCormick. 

Missing. 
Corp. Francis Lee. 



Not more than thvee-fourths of the number whose names 
appear under the heading " Killed," expired while the battle was 
raging. Several lingered, entirely helpless, on the field for days 
without food or drink. Two or three died in the bands of their 
enemies ; and yet others, after undergoing untold sufferings, and 
submitting unmurmuringly to the torture of probe and knife and 
saw, breathed their last, after their mangled bodies had been 
carried to our division hospital at Aquia Creek. 

* The names of Corporal Alexander Jones, of Company G, antl private John W 
Foley, of Company C, were unintentionally omitted from the list of present for duty 
on pages 98 and 1 00 



130 HISTORY OF THE 124TH NEW YORK VOLUNTEERS. 

Colonel Ellis, in his official report of the part taken by the 
124th in this battle, refrains from special mention of any one, 
but speaks in the following general terms of the behavior of those 
under him : " Our men fought like tigers, cheering loudly, but 
falling fast. The officers without exception standing up to their 
duty and encouraging their commands." But in the following 
extract from a letter written by him to the Hon. C. H. Winfield, 
a day or two after the battle, and which went the rounds of our 
local press at the time, he is more specific. 

" On Saturday night (previous to the Sunday's fight) the 
regiment lay on picket on the skirt of a wood, and an unknown 
force of the enemy — the same who had routed the Eleventh corps 
— were somewhere within. A rude road ran from each flank of 
the regiment into this wood. I was ordered by the commanding 
general to send a party out to explore each road ; it was hazard- 
ous and required skilful officers. I sent Captain Weygant, of 
Newburgh, Company A, and ten men on the right, and Captain 
Murray, Company B, of Goshen, on the left, with eight men. 
Captain Weygant presently returned. He had found 
two caissons and a gun captured from us that afternoon and 
abandoned by the enemy, and, taking possession of them, advanced 
about one-fourth of a mile without meeting the enemy. Captain 
Murray came in and reported that deploying his men 

and keeping in the shadow, he had advanced about a mile and, 
un perceived, had come on a large force of the enemy, who were 
preparing columns of attack or defence. This report was for- 
warded to the commanding General and proved of service in the 
advance shortly after made by General Birney, who brought in 
the caissons and guns already referred to. This was a very 
hazardous scout and well performed, as the woods were alive 
with enemies concealed in the darkness ; and we subsequently 
exchanged several volleys with them at intervals during the 
night. When the Sunday fight began, it was necessary, from the 
unexpected appearance of a Rebel regiment on our right, which 
was unsupported, to change front on the centre. The movement 
was executed as on parade, the brave Captain Silliman, of Corn- 



CHANCELLOKSVILLE. 13] 

wall, Company C, throwing out his guide, and dressing his com- 
pany to the right in the midst of a heavy fire ; but it was amus- 
ing to see the men stepping backward : not one would face 
about and expose his back to the foe for the few moments neces- 
sary for the manoeuvre. Captain Silliman, conspicuous for his 
height, displayed great gallantry; waving his sword above his 
head he ever encouraged his men, and kept his eye on the 
colors, of which he had charge, his being the color company 
Thrice was the color-bearer shot down, but the darling flag never 
touched the ground, and was finally taken by Corporal Hazen 
of Goshen, Company B, who bore it gallantly the remainder of 
the day The Newburgh Company I, fought with much cool- 
ness and deliberate aim, and their commander, little Cressey, son 
of our New Windsor parson, was dancing around on the broad 
grin, seemingly amused as well as interested. While the regi- 

to . 

ment was lying down behind and supporting a battery, they were 
exposed to a perfect storm of bursting shells. Many were hit, 
but none uttered a sound ; those killed died as they lay, and 
when the regiment arose to advance on the enemy, several of the 
Orange Blossoms * remained prone on their faces. May the Crea- 
tor receive their brave souls. During the above shelling, Captain 
Benedict, of Warwick, Company D, was reclining on his elbow ; a 
discharge of grape, about a bucketful, ploughed up the ground and 
threw some on him ; he looked around and muttered something, 
I did not hear what ; but he would have moved more if a hen in 
scratching had thrown a little dirt on him. Captain Weygant, 
of Newburgh Company A, was grazed in the head by a ball, which, 
though not dangerous, was painful ; covered with blood he 
remained cheering his men, and when exhausted by fatigue and 
loss of blood, got on a yellow pack-mule he found, and did great 
service as a kind of adjutant. Adjutant Bronson was shot 
through the leg — -the first one hit. I did not see him, being in a 

* The sobriquet Orange Blossoms was not generally applied to the regiment until 
after the publication in our county papers of the above extract. It was first used by 
Colonel Ellis during the battle of Chancellorsville. Previous to that time our friends 
at home occasionally spoke of us as the Natioual Guard, but we were known in the 
army only as the 124th New York Volunteers. 



132 HISTORY OF THE 124TH NEW YORK VOLUNTEERS. 

different direction at the time. While lying in the rifle-pits, we 
were annoyed by sharp-shooters firing at a great elevation; we 
would not hear the report of the gun, only the sharp 'chirp ' of 
the rifle-ball, and an occasional thud told that some one was hit. 
I heard distinctly the ball strike General Whipple ; we lost 
several men here. Lieutenant Grier, of Cornwall, Company C, 
was an object of especial interest to the Rebs. His clothes 
were pierced over and over, but he came off with a whole skin. 
Grier was one of the original Company I, 71st regiment, and 
fought bravely at Bull Run.'' 



AFTET CHANCELLORSVILLE. 138 



CHAPTER VIII. 

AFTER CHANCELLORSVILLE BEVERLEY'S FORD. 

MAY 7th. — We are just beginning to realize the extent of 
our loss. Nearly half our log huts are roofless, and hardly 
a squad (that is four men who tented together) remains intact. 
This has been the most gloomy day of our existence as a regiment. 
The men go about silently, or speaking almost in whispers, with 
faces expressive of most intense sadness ; and if you watch them 
closely, you may ever and anon detect some stalwart fellow 
stealthily brushing an unbidden tear from his bronzed cheek, as 
he passes by a tenantless log cabin, so recently occupied by some 
friend or schoolmate. 

For a week after our return we had but few drills, and a con- 
siderable number were allowed to spend the greater part of their 
time at the division hospital, with their wounded comrades. On 
the 15th our turn for picket came round again; but the weather 
was pleasant, and we now rather enjoyed these three-day tours 
away from our camp. 

On the 17th a mail was brought out to us, and a member of 
Company B. loaned me a Goshen paper which contained several 
articles concerning our regiment; and a long eulogistic obituary 
notice of our lamented Captain Murray Just after I had finished 
reading the articles and notice referred to, and was in the act of 
handing the paper back to the owner, a messenger from the front 
brought word to the reserve where I was posted, that a number 
of covered wagons were approaching the line, and I hurried out 
to see what it meant. It was our own division ambulance train, 
which I learned, from the officer in charge of it, had been over 
the river under a flag of truce for, and was now loaded with, 
severely wounded officers and men of the 3d corps, who had fallen 



Vii HISTORY OF THE 124TH NEW YORK VOLUNTEERS, 

into the hands of the enemy during the battle, but had since been 
paroled. 

As the ambulances passed through the line I looked into each 
one to see if I could discover any members of the 124th among 
the suffering, ghastly looking mortals they contained. As I lifted 
the curtain of the third was;on I was startled by the bandaged, 
distorted, but yet familiar face of Captain Murray. " Why, Cap- 
tain," I shouted, "I was sure you were killed, and was told 
George Hawley had buried you on the field ; and besides I have 
just been reading your obituary in a Goshen paper." I did not 
understand the Captain's first reply He had been wounded by a 
bullet which had passed in between his lips, carried away his two 
upper and two lower front centre teeth, gone through the back 
of his neck, and lodged just under the skin of his shoulder. His 
lacerated tongue and mouth were so swollen he could scarcely 
speak ; but smiling over the failure of his first attempt, he, with 
another painful effort, mumbled what I had now no difficulty in 
interpreting as " Worth a dozen dead men." 

During the day I learned that eight or ten other severely 
wounded members of the 124th had been brought in through more 
distant portions of the line, and as soon as the regiment returned 
to camp I went over to the hospital to see them. 

Gaptain Murray had, immediately on his arrival there, caused 
a telegram to be sent to his mourning friends at Goshen, notify- 
ing them that he still lived. And while other members of his 
family hastened to divest themselves of sombre weeds, his father 
the Hon. William Murray, President of the Goshen National Bank, 
and his uncle, the Hon. Spencer Murray, President of the National 
Bank of Orange County, both ex-members of Congress and inti- 
mate friends of Secretary of State Hon. William H. Seward, 
hastened to Washington, where a special engine was placed at 
their disposal which soon brought them to the Captain's side. 

He was meantime gaining rapidly- Under the improved 
treatment and especial care he received after his arrival among 
his comrades, the inflammation in his face and neck was hourly 
abating; and though his tongue remained thick, he was soon able 



AFTER CHANCfilLOESVILLE. 135 

to "wag it" in a most emphatic manner. On my second visit to 
the hospital, after his arrival, an officer and friend of his, who 
had accompanied me on both occasions, unfolded a paper and with 
a most sorrowful face, and in a doleful voice, began reading to 
him the obituary referred to ; but before he had finished the first 
sentence the Captain shook his fist, mumbled " stop ! stop !— -you 
stop," and then explained in rather strong if but poorly articulated 
English that he had already listened to the reading of the same 
thing half a dozen times ; and wonnd up his protest by borrowing 
a revolver from an officer who lay near him, and swearing by all 
that was good and bad, he would put a hole through the very n«ext 
person who unfolded a newspaper in front of him. Before another 
day had passed the Captain was on his way home where gentler 
hands could minister to his wants. 

While Captain Murray and other favored ones, who had richly 
earned every encomium and merited all the care that could be 
bestowed upon them, were rapidly recovering under the gentle 
nursing they were receiving at their comfortable homes, hundreds 
of others who had shown themselves just as brave and in every 
respect equally as deserving were, for want of the tender care 
their more fortunate comrades were receiving, daily growing 
weaker ; and every morning there could be seen in front of the 
hospital tents at Aquia Greek a line of stretchers, most of which 
held the dead form of sornebodys husband, father, son, brother or 
loved one, in most cases waiting a soldier's unceremonious coffinT 
less burial, in what have long ere this become "unknown graves." 

At dress parade on the afternoon of June 2nd the following 
letter from the Hon. Charles H. Winfield, who then represented 
our district in Congress, was read to the regiment : 

Goshen, New York, May 28, 18(53. 

Colonel A. Van Horn Ellis. 

Dear Colonel : Pardon the liberty I take, of thanking cwid 
congratulating you, and through you your brave regiment, for the 
glorious manner in which the 124th bore itself through the recent 
battle. You do not doubt that we have hoped everything of 



136 HISTOEY OP THE 124TH NEW YORK VOLUNTEERS. 

yourself and your men, since you left us, but we hardly dared to 
hope the regiment would stand the first severe and terrible battle 
shock with the cool and unfaltering courage displayed on the oc- 
casion referred to. 

Could you fully realize, officers and men, the emotions of 
pride and satisfaction that filled all hearts here, and found utter- 
ance from almost every tongue, at the manner in which you faced 
danger and death in the discharge of your duty in the recent and 
first principal trial of your courage and patriotism, it would cheer 
and lighten your hearts in many a silent watch, or weary march, 
and nerve your arms in all the blows you are hereafter to strike 
for your flag and your country 

If the skill and courage displayed by your gallant regiment is 
any indication of the mettle of the Army of the Potomac, who dares 
to say that we shall not succeed in vindicating our country's honor 
and subdue the unholy rebellion which threatens it. I need not 
say that our delight and satisfaction at the glorious conduct of 
the regiment, has been mingled with deep sorrow at its severe 
losses. How the vacant places in your ranks must sadden your 
hearts at roll-call. Remember, however, that your missing heroes 
died nobly, and never men had better right to 'look proudly to 
Heaven from the death bed of fame,' wherever they rest. May 
the flowers of earth bloom beautifully above their ashes, and their 
pure spirits bask in the smiles of their God. 

Say to all who love him, that Captain Murray, God bless his 
true heart and brave soul, is steadily and surely (humanly 
speaking) getting well, and much of his anxiety for a speedy re- 
covery seems to be that he may be among his brave comrades as 
soon as possible, sharing their honors and dangers. His company, 
his regiment are the objects of his pride and his love, and his soul 
pants to be where they are. May Heaven spare and protect 
you all. 

Your friend 

C. H. Winfield. 

Colonel Ellis, in his reply to the above, says, " Your kind and 



AFTER CHANCELLORSVILLE. 137 

inspiring letter is at hand, and being read to the regiment, was 
received with mingled emotions of pride and gratification. Pride, 
that our perils and devotion to the cause are appreciated by the 
respected and loved ones at home, and gratification at its ex- 
pression through you, our honored representative. 

" We have ever striven to do our duty, and were it possible for 
a craven thought to enter the bosom of the least among us, one 
glance at the flag which, weather-beaten and rent with balls, yet 
waves over what is left of us, would so fire his breast that death 
would be the least evil that could befall, for the remembrance of 
its fair donors, the dear ' Daughters of Orange,' is ever befoi'e us. 
The warring of a mighty tempest alone could equal the shouts of 
the 'American Guard ' as they entered the conflict cheering loudly 
for the 'little girls at home.' The sod now covers many of these 
brave boys, but the sob of regret is fiercely choked by the grand 
thought that they fell with their faces to the foe, and not una- 
venged. When asked for a list of officers and men who con- 
ducted themselves bravely in the fight, I could but say ' Here is 
the muster-roll of the regiment.' 

" Your kind letter has cheered us much ; for the loss of our 
general, the brave Whipple, and consequent failure of any report 
from the division, made us fear our efforts might never be ap- 
preciated by the ones we cared most for, but these fears are now 
removed." 

Wednesday afternoon, June 3d, Major Cromwell inspected the 
regiment; and during the day it was rumored that something 
unusual was transpiring in General Lee's camp opposite Falmouth. 
Colonel Franklin's regiment, the 122nd Penn., completed its nine 
months service and started for home a day or two after our return 
from Chancellorsville ; whereupon Colonel Ellis, being the senior 
officer remaining, took command of our brigade, which was now 
composed of the 86th and 124th New York, and numbered for 
duty between five and six hundred men. 

On the 4th, about three o'clock a. m., Lieutenant Colonel Cum- 
mins came personally to my quarters, and notified me that he had 
just received orders to have his command ready to move at day- 



138 HISTORY OF THE 124TH NEW YORK VOLUNTEERS. 

break. At four o'clock the assembly was sounded, and we were 
soon in line, in heavy marching order. After remaining under 
arms about an hour, the regiment was dismissed with instructions 
to remain in readiness to fall in at a moment's notice, but the day 
passed quietly away without bringing us any farther orders. 

On the 5th, about three o'clock in the afternoon, I was sitting 
on a cracker box ifi front of my log cabin, thinking of the events 
of the past, and wondering as to the future, when suddenly 
there came up from the direction of Fredericksburg, the booming 
.of cannon. At first the reports, and the intervals between them, 
were such as led me to suppose a section, or at most three or 
four guns of some light battery, was at work ; and as for a time 
there was no reply, I concluded a small force had been sent over 
the river on a reconnoissance, and were simply shelling the woods 
or, perhaps, attempting to drive in some one of the enemy's 
numerous outposts ; when suddenly eight or ten reports in quick 
succession, from guns of a much heavier calibre than those to 
which I had just been listening, completely upset my calculations 
on that score. A moment later the intervals between reports 
were lost in a continuous roar , and hastening within my quarters, 
I took down and buckled on my sword, gave instructions con- 
cerning the filling of canteens and haversacks, slipped two or 
three boxes of sardines into my pocket — for I had not forgotten 
my experience with Jack Smith on our first crossing of the river 
— and soon had all my traps packed and in readiness for any 
emergency. Then I walked out to my company street for the 
purpose of directing my men to do the same ; but my precaution, 
so far as they were concerned, was unnecessary ; they had all 
buckled on their accoutrements, and quite a number with knap- 
sacks strapped were walking thoughtfully, up and down by their 
gun stacks. Meantime, off to the left of the regiment, three or 
four " dead-beats " who had not yet been gotten rid of, might 
have been seen crawling or hobbling toward the surgeon's tent. 
For over an hour the distant thundering of artillery continued 
without a moment's cessation, then slackened and gradually died 
away ; and at five o'clock all was quiet again. 



AFTER CHANOELLORSVJ.LLE. 139 

On the morning of the 6th a man of the 86th New York, 
who had been on duty as a clerk at corps head-quarters, came 
into camp and reported that he had that morning copied an order 
from army head-quarters, which stated that three small brigades 
of picked regiments, one of which was to be selected from the 
Third corps, were to accompany a large body of cavalry on a secret 
expedition. About noon it was rumored that Colonel Ellis 1 
brigade had been selected from the several recommended from 
our corps, for the especial duty above referred to. An hour later, 
an order was received by Colonel Cummins, which directed that 
all knapsacks, baggage, and such tents and blankets as were not 
absolutely needed for the immediate protection of the men, be 
left in camp, under guard of those who were deemed unfit for a 
long and rapid march. At five o'clock the long roll sounded, and 
a few moments later Colonel Ellis, accompanied by Captain Ben. 
Piatt and Lieutenant H. P Ramsdell, members of his staff, and 
followed by half a dozen mounted orderlies appeared; and taking 
position at the head of the column, ordered his bugler to " sound 
the forward," and away we went. 

On reaching the top of a knoll, a short distance from our now 
almost deserted little log village, I looked back from the head of 
our column, over the remnants of the two regiments, and remem- 
bering the many who went out with us, when w r e last marched 
from that spot to the ' battle-field, never to return, wondered if 
all the brave men now in our ranks would ever see their little 
huts again. We were scarcely out of sight of our camps, when the 
rain commenced falling, and we heard from the distance, the dull 
heavy rumbling of heaven's artillery, which ere long pealed forth 
right over us with a furious crashing — to me, more terribly grand 
than the thunder of any battle-field. Like the cannonading of 
the day before, it lasted about an hour, then gradually died 
away ; but the rain continued half an hour longer. 

We were thoroughly drenched, but as it was quite warm, 
we would have cared but little for that, if the rain had not left 
the road in such condition that at every step we slipped about 
to such an extent, and so much mud clung to our feet, that more 



140 HISTORY OF THE 124TH NEW YORK VOLUNTEERS. 

effort had to be put forth, and strength expended, in accomplish- 
ing one mile, than is usually required for four or five. Never- 
theless we pushed on as fast as possible, and the men were in 
very good spirits until about eight o'clock, when Colonel Ellis, 
supposing he was on the wrong road, ordered a countermarch. 
I never heard that order given to a moving column — unless 
they had just run against the enemy's line of battle, or some- 
thing of that sort — but that some one was called very hard 
names, and this was no exception to the general rule. 

After retracing our steps about a mile, it was learned we had 
not left the correct road ; and another countermarch was ordered, 
followed by another volley of — of — hard names. Then on, on 
we plodded, in the mud, through streams and over rough roads, 
until long after midnight. And when at last the order to halt 
was given, we were all so thoroughly tired out, that in fifteen 
minutes not twenty men in the two regiments, save the poor fel- 
lows who were detailed for picket, were awake. Two hours 
later there came the order " Have your men roused up, get your 
breakfasts, and be ready to resume the march at daybreak." As 
usual, however, we did not get off at the time appointed. We 
were up at half past four, but it was ten o'clock before we started. 

When the sick call was sounded that morning, quite a number 
were found to be so completely exhausted, that they could 
scarcely move ; and when at length the column got under way 
again they were left behind, with instructions to make their way 
back to camp the best they could. All were stiff and foot-sore, 
but it was a beautiful morning ; and though on the start it was 
painful hobbling, rather than marching, we soon wore off our 
stiffness, and almost forgot our blistered feet. And encouraged 
by the better roads and beautiful sky, a spirit of cheerfulness 
soon pervaded the entire column ; and muttering and grumbling 
gave way to jokes and mirth. 

The place where we had bivouacked could not have been 
more than twelve miles, in a direct line, from camp ; but we had 
marched at least sixteen in getting there ; and if the distance of 
our slippings about in the mud, were added, it would make it at 



AFTER CHANCELLORSVILLE. 141 

least twenty miles. The place was called Cropp's Tavern, or 
Spottsville. There was a large frame building there, said to 
have been before the war a flourishing hotel ; but its palmy 
days had passed. 

In the room which had once contained the bar and where 
the majestic slave-breeders of the country round about had been 
wont, in times past, to meet and discuss o'er their wine the glory 
of coming days — when " the whole herd of cowardly northern 
abolition dogs " had been compelled, by their valor, to sue for 
mercy, and all the nations of the earth had come to recognize 
them as the most mighty, invincible lords and nobles of the 
sunny south, who, none daring to hinder, swayed the destinies 
of the proudest, grandest Nation beneath the sun — there was 
now, alas ! nothing to be seen but an old rickety bedstead, on 
which lay a roll of rags, and old army blankets. These had 
apparently been spread on the floor, and served as bed and cover- 
ing for several squalid half-naked children, who with a lean hun- 
gry-looking dog were running about the premises. There was 
only one other room in the house which appeared to be occupied, 
and that was furnished with three chairs, a long bench, a table, 
and two rolls of rags and blankets, among which sat an old man, 
who was a cripple, and two women — probably the mother and 
grandmother of the children referred to. There were on the 
premises, several log outbuildings, all empty, and a number of 
negro huts, but no negroes. 

But to return to our march. As I have said, it was a delight- 
ful day ; the air was cool, and the country was more fertile and 
thickly settled than any portion of Virginia through which we 
had yet passed. As soon as we left the tavern it was thought 
necessary to arrest all men and boys found along the route, to 
prevent their carrying word of our movement to the enemy. 
My company being at the head of the column, I witnessed that 
day many scenes which affected me more than anything I had 
ever seen in hospital or on the battle-field. 

It was Sunday, and quite a number of able bodied men were 
at their homes. The first arrest took place about three miles 



14^ HISTORY OF THE 124TH NEW YORK VOLUNTEERS. 

from the tavern. As we quietly emerged from a thick pine wood, 
I saw on a little hillock Justin front of us, a pretty white cottage, 
more northern in style than was usually found in that portion of 
the south. On the slope in front of it was laid out, and in full 
bloom, a beautiful flower garden ; near the house stood a group 
of beech trees, and around the whole ran a white picket fence. 
On the side nearest us, at a gate which stood half open, was a 
fine looking middle-aged man, dressed in a white linen suit, and 
a broad-brimmed Panama hat. At his side, with her hand rest- 
ing on his arm, stood a noble looking woman, undoubtedly his 
wife. They seemed riveted to the spot, and stared at us, as if 
doubting their senses. And it is not to be wondered at that 
they were surprised, for the advance guard had gone off to a 
large house, some distance to the left, and the first notice they 
had of our approach was the appearance of a column of bristling 
bayonets emerging from the woods just in front of them. Before 
they had time to recover from the effects of their surprise, an 
orderly stood beside them, informing the man he was a prisoner. 
A moment later Colonel Ellis rode up, and after kindly express- 
ing to the lady his regret that it was necessary to perform so 
unpleasant a duty, directed the orderly, without a moment's 
delay, to move forward with his prisoner. The lady bade her 
husband adieu without shedding a tear, or scarcely changing a 
muscle of her face, and moved rapidly up the garden walk to the 
house. But on entering the door she turned and looked back — 
saw him marched away under guard of despised Union-loving, 
slavery-hating soldiers; and shrieked, fainted, and fell back- 
ward into the hall. 

After that we left at nearly every house a group of weeping 
women and children. It was in vain the Colonel sent back his 
aids, to tell them their loved ones would soon be permitted to 
return to their homes ; nearly all believed we were pressing them 
into our army, and refused to be comforted. 

Among that day's sad scenes was one which, though we felt 
extremely sorry because of the woman's grief, was so intensely 
ludicrous, it brought from all who saw it an irresistible peal of 



AFTER OHANCELLORSVILLE. 143 

laughter. The guards were marching a rough grey-bearded, 
gorilla-looking old sinner down a path leading from a dingy, 
dilapidated old house. And close in their wake came a " buxom 
young daughter of Erin" with a half naked, dirty, greasy baby, 
screeching like mad, under her left arm, while in her right hand 
she held a broom, brush upward, in a threatening attitude ; and 
was crying so loud, she could have been heard half a mile at least, 
" Oh Lord ! Oh Lord ! — They have taken the only husband I've 
got, the only husband Tve gotP 

About one o'clock we halted thirty minutes for dinner, then 
pushed on for Bealton, a station on the Orange and Alexandria 
R R., which Ave reached about five o'clock p. m. ; having marched 
thirty-four miles since leaving our camp at Falmouth, from which 
Ave had not been absent quite twenty -four hours. We remained 
at Bealton that night and the folloAving day, during Avhich time 
quite a number of ladies, hearing Avhere we had halted, came to 
our camp with blankets and food for the men and boys we had 
brought along Avith us. One of these lady visitors was richly 
dressed, quite young, and decidedly pretty. She brought 
something for a young man Avhom she blushingly said was her 
brother. 

Lieutenant C , a fine looking, gay young officer, Avho had 

charge of the prisoners, seemed much affected by this southern 
beauty, and for half an hour after her arm r al was very lavish of 
his attention to her; then he turned abruptly away, gave his 
entire attention to others, and from that time until she left camp 
hardly looked toward her again. Presently he was relieved from 
that particular duty, and came sauntering past where I sat lean- 
ing against a tree — from Avhich position I had been amusing 
myself, by watching his deportment toward the prisoners and 
their callers — and I asked him the reason for his so suddenly 
leaving, in so unceremonious a manner, the charming young crea- 
ture, whom I had judged from his actions he was at first very 
favorably impressed with. " Yes, yes," he replied, " she Avas 
pretty — but — well to tell you the truth I was quite seriously 
smitten by her pretty face ; and she was real intelligent too — 



144 HISTORY OF THE 124TH NEW YORK VOLUNTEERS. 

but — " Never mind your buts, I said ; let us hear your story. 
" Well I was just thinking that I ought to ask permission to 
escort her back to her home, for it seemed to me extremely dan- 
gerous and ungentlemanly to allow her to attempt a return 
unguarded; for our rough cavalrymen are, you know, scouting 
around through the woods in every direction, and she lived sev- 
eral miles away But I happened to catch a glimpse of her feet, 
which by the way, were encased in very small boots, but confound 
her, she hadn't half laced them ; and the long ends of the strings 
went dangling and draggling in the mud. Pshaw ! it was like 
finding a nasty hair in one's pudding." 

It is more than probable that this young lady's neglect to 
properly lace her shoes, saved the Union army a good young 
officer ; for, about an hour later it was learned that a man of the 
86th, who had given out on the march the day before, had been 
murdered that morning, within a mile of where we were lying. 
Then came the report, that a chaplain of one of the cavalry regi- 
ments was set upon only a short distance further away, and had 
barely escaped with his life — having been wounded in both 
shoulders. It was said he had quite a large amount of money 
with him, belonging to the men of his regiment, which had just 
been paid ; that he was going back to express it to their families, 
and rather than lose it, he had risked, and came very near losing 
bis life. That he had been, able to effect his escape was attrib- 
uted wholly to the fact of his being better mounted than were 
the guerillas who attacked him. 

Just after dark Monday evening, we moved along the rail- 
road toward the Rappahannock, and bivouacked for the night in 
a piece of wood about a mile from Beverley's Ford. At an early 
hour the next morning — Tuesday, June 9th — we pushed on again, 
but had gone only a short distance when we heard ahead of 
us the cracking of musketry Quickening our steps we were soon 
at the Ford and commenced throwing a rough bridge across ; but 
before we had worked ten minutes at the bridge, Colonel Ellis 
became impatient and spurring his horse into the water ordered 
us to wade over after him. The water reached only to our waists, 



BEVERLEY'S FORD. 145 

but the current was so strong that a number were drawn under 
and got their ammunition wet. 

Once on the opposite shore such scenes appeared as are wit- 
nessed only in rear of contending battle-lines. As we moved for- 
ward, wounded men began to straggle back past us. Some of 
these were on horseback, others with pale faces and blood-stained 
garments came staggering along on foot, and occasionally one was 
borne hurriedly by on a stretcher, or in the arms of, apparently ten- 
der-hearted, but really cowardly, comrades. A little farther on we 
began to pass over, and saw lying on either side of us, lifeless bodies 
of men, dressed, some in grey and some in blue, which told unmis- 
takably that the tide of battle was with the Union line. Up to that 
time, cavalry only had been engaged. Colonel Ellis' regiments 
were the first infantry on the field. But ere long batteries on 
both sides opened fire, and we heard through the woods beyond, 
shouts of officers, shrill bugle blasts, and the southern squeal and 
northern yell of charge and countercharge. 

The contending lines were yet some distance ahead of us, but 
the din of battle grew louder and yet louder as we hurried on. 
Every few moments a horse with an empty saddle dashed past us 
on his way to the rear, or — almost halting in front of our column — 
swung his head aloft, snuffed the air, and with a wild snort 
wheeled and bounded madly back .toward where he had lost his 
rider. Soon bullets began to hiss and whistle about us, and 
Colonel Ellis rode back and ordered me to throw out my own 
and Company F, and cover the right of the column. His order 
was promptly obeyed, while the brigade moved cautiously but 
steadily forward. Meantime the noise increased and spread, 
until the thundering of artillery and the crackling of musketry 
seemed to come from every side. We were now moving along a 
rough road through a slight ravine, in woods so dense that we 
could not see twenty yards away, look which way we would. 
Thicker and yet thicker flew the bullets, making weird music, 
as they sped through the trees over our heads. Every few 
moments we passed by a dead or dying cavalryman, sometimes 



146 HISTORY OF THE 124TH NEW YOKK VOLUNTEERS. 

an enemy, and sometimes a friend. In several instances horse 
and rider lay dead together. 

Presently a general officer, coming from the head of our 
column, unattended by either staff officers or orderlies, rode up to 
me and asked, "Where is Captain Winant?" On my replying 
"I presume, sir, that I am the person intended," he shouted 
" Halt where you are until further orders," and putting spurs to 
his horse, dashed away again. The brigade moved on, and as 
the rear of the column disappeared James Jones, a comical old 
Irishman, who had not yet become familiar with the peculiar 
sound of " them ere little hissin divils," tried to whistle Yankee 
Doodle ; and though he failed in the attempt, his comrades 
assured him they were satisfied that there was one of their num- 
ber who was not afraid, and wouldn't run if he didn't have an 
opportunity 

A quarter of an hour later a staff officer rode back to us, 
with orders from General Ames to join our regiment. He said 
he could not tell us where it was — had seen two regiments mov- 
ing through the woods about a third of a mile beyond, but did 
not know where they had gone. Ploying my companies, I 
started off with them in the direction the brigade was moving 
when it left us ; hoping to be able to trace it by footmarks and 
broken twigs , but we had moved only a few rods, when Colonel 
Ellis appeared, and led us off in an opposite direction. As 
we hurried on, the woods seemed to grow darker and yet darker, 
but ere long we saw light ahead, and then a large open field 
appeared ; but before we reached it the Colonel ordered a halt, 
and directed me to deploy my men in the edge of the woods 
and keep them concealed, " and " continued he as he rode away, 
" if the devils charge you, make a determined stand — hold them 
at all hazards until reinforcements can be brought to you." 

After forming line and causing my men to take distance until 
they were some four feet apart, I directed each one to select the 
tree in front of him, nearest the clearing, and get out to it, if 
possible, without discovering himself to the enemy; far across 
the field, in front of another piece of woods, not more than six 



BEVERLEY'S FORD. I47 

hundred yards away, there stood drawn up in battle line a 
brigade of Confederate cavalry The men moved cautiously out 
one after another and when they were all in position — each 
behind a good sized tree — there yet remained, a few feet in 
advance of all the others, a huge pine. Now the 124th was a 
well drilled and thoroughly posted regiment, and every man in 
companies A and F knew that while their senior officer was by 
no means the largest bodied man among them, he was "heavy" 
on military usage, and they accordingly kept away from that 
extra large pine, behind which he was soon posted. 

Presently, while looking down the front of the woods we 
were in, I saw walk out of them, about two hundred }'ards away, 
an officer I recognized as Lieutenant Houston of Company D, 
who, after advancing some twenty paces, halted in front of a dark 
object — which I believed to be a dead or wounded cavalry horse — 
and was in the act of stooping over it when, all of a sudden, he 
whirled about like a top, and I knew he had been hit by a rebel 
bullet. But he did not fall, and was able unassisted to make his 
way back to the woods where I concluded his company was 
lying. 

The battle was now raging on both sides of us, but every 
thing in our immediate front was comparatively quiet, and I 
decided to walk down through the woods a few rods and see if I 
could not get sight of some Company D man who could tell me 
how seriously Houston was wounded. Just as I started a bat- 
tery drove leisurely out of the opposite woods and took position 
on the right of the enemy's cavalry About ten yards to the 
left of my line I came to a road, which ran from the plain into 
the woods. As I was in the act of crossing this road, two or 
three shells came crashing through the trees, and went plowing 
and bounding down it; and as I reached the farther side, another 
shell burst over my head, and one of the pieces cut off the top of 
a sapling, which as it fell slapped me in the face. Jast then I 
remembered that my orders were to keep concealed, and that my 
proper place was behind that big tree in front of my companies. 
As for Lieutenant Houston, why Captain Benedict and the men 



148 HISTORY OP THE 124TH NEW YORK VOLUNTEERS. 

of Company D, would see that the very best care was taken of 
him, and perhaps after all his wound was but slight. 

The enemy continued to shell that portion of the woods 
for about an hour, as rapidly as a four gun battery could do 
it ; but fortunately their range was high, the trees were large, 
and we were not damaged by it. Once while this shelling was 
in progress, several small squads of their cavalry rode delib- 
erately forward and came so close to our line that we could 
almost see the whites of their eyes, when a man in Company A, 
who could not resist so good a shot, tumbled one of them out of 
his saddle, at which the others turned and rode leisurely back, 
satisfied that the woods at that point were not entirely unoc- 
cupied. But they were apparently determined to know of a cer- 
tainty how large a force confronted them ; and finally dismounted 
and sent forward, in a heavy skirmish line, one of their regiments. 
It was not a pleasant sight, for they advanced directly against us. 
We had, it is true, the advantage in position, and the protection 
of the trees, while they were in the open field ; but then there were 
only sixty of us, and no supporting force in sight, or hearing either, 
so far as we knew. On the other hand, their advancing line was 
not less than three hundred strong, while twice that number of 
mounted men remained close at hand ready to support them. 

There is no denying the fact that a majority of our number 
would have welcomed some such order as General Whipple gave 
us that Sunday morning at Chancellorsville, " Check them a little 
and then make good your escape — if you can." But the Colonel's 
orders when he left us there some two hours before, were — it 
will be remembered — of quite a different tenor; yet we deter- 
mined to attempt to obey them to the letter, and without delay 
prepared to give the enemy a warm reception. Directing my 
men to remain concealed, and not to fire a shot until the order 
was given, I took a position from which I could watch, as I sup- 
posed, every movement of the advancing line, until it should reach 
a little shrub, which grew in the open ground about one hundred 
yards in front of us. When it had arrived at that point I pur- 
posed opening fire. Steadily and rapidly forward they came — 



BEVERLEY'S FOED. 149 

they were almost there. My men without orders were bringing 
their pieces to an aim, and I was saying to them, " Wait a minute 
— just a minute," when suddenly the enemy's dismounted line 
seemed to sink into the earth, and every man of them disap- 
peared from our view ; at which Jimmy Jones, who stood just 
behind me with bloodless face, and bloodshot eyes almost starting 
from his head, mumbled to himself, " Holy mother, the divil's 
grabbed 'em," and then whispered " Captain give thra hoots for 
the bully old Divil." It was very plain to the rest of us that 
they had entered a ravine, of the existence of which we were not 
before aware. We expected every second to see them reappear, 
and quite a number in their anxiety stepped out from behind the 
trees and stood with their guns raised. Under such circumstances 
minutes frequently appear hours, and remembering this I watched 
and waited as patiently as I could ; but the suspense soon became 
almost unbearable. They were doing something, but what ? At 
this juncture their battery ceased firing and the thought came to 
me, " The ravine turns our position," and wheeling about, I dis- 
covered them moving stealthily through the woods, right against 
our flank ; and before I had time to effect a change of front, or 
notify my men where they were, they, with their peculiar half 
yell and half squeal, and a volley right down our line, rushed at 
us. But their shout coming first, we had time to change posi- 
tion so as to retain the shelter of the trees before the volley was 
delivered. Under cover of the smoke it made, we changed front 
toward them, taking advantage as before of the protection afforded 
by the trunks of large trees. The enemy had while out of our 
sight formed in battle line, and as the smoke lifted I gave the 
order "fire? and my men poured into their solid ranks a volley 
which made them tremble, break and take to the trees for shelter. 
Then was begun an almost hand to hand Indian fight ; closer 
and yet closer they came, springing from tree to tree ; deter- 
mined to drive us to the open field, where they would have us 
at their mercy- My men stood firm and fired deliberately, and 
as rapidly as possible ; but our foes continued to advance until 
the muzzles of guns from opposite trees almost touched each other, 
and I began to fear they would stretch their line and lap our flanks. 



150 HISTORY OF THE 124TH NEW YORK VOLUNTEERS. 

At this critical moment I heard through the woods the voice 
of Major Cromwell. He was shouting " Forward, men, forward," 
and a moment later a company of the 86th, with which he was 
hastening to our relief, struck the foe on their deep exposed left 
flank with a murderous volley Then there was a rustling in 
the brush behind us and the tramp of horses coming rapidly 
toward us, and I heard Colonel Ellis shout "give them the steel, 
my honeys, give them the steel, the brigade will support you." 

Then was heard the Yankee charging shout, given with a 
will, and as we rushed forward, the enemy in utter dismay broke 
from their cover and fled before us, followed by a galling fire 
which left the ground, in their line of retreat out of the woods 
and over the plain, strewn with dead and wounded. It may as 
well be here stated that the brigade with which Colonel Ellis 
supported us consisted of himself, Captain Ben. Piatt, Lieutenant 
H. P. Ramsdell, three orderlies, and a brigade flag. 

The moment the enemy in their hasty retreat, emerged from 
the woods, their battery opened again, and the very first shell 
struck poor Frank Rhinefield, of Company A, killing him instantly 
— literally tearing him in two. He was an illiterate, untidy, 
careless boy, who would go to sleep on picket as quick as in 
camp, but once in line of battle, a braver or better soldier seldom 
handled a musket. We buried him where he fell. 

This affair lasted about ten minutes, during which time we 
had two men killed and about twenty wounded from our three 
little companies, which numbered all told but eighty-five men. 
Among the enemy's dead left in our hands was a Major who had 
commanded the attacking party, and a young lieutenant. The 
latter could not have been more than twenty years of age — had 
a broad noble forehead, fine features and beautiful light curly 
hair. From his breast pocket, near which a ball had entered his 
heart, a small package of papers protruded. Drawing out one of 
these, thinking to learn his name, I began reading a letter, such 
as only a widowed, almost heart-broken mother, could have writ- 
ten to an idolized son. It seemed a sacrilege to turn to the 
second page, and I carefully replaced the letter, had the body 
carried to the side of road, and covered with n, blanket, trust- 



BEVERLEY'S FORD. 151 

ing that after we had gone some friend might find and perhaps 
send it to that grief-stricken mother. During the afternoon 
companies A and F were moved about to a considerable extent 
but did not again become engaged. 

The following extract from a letter written by Sergeant Peter 
P. Hazen, of Company C, and published in the Newburgh Jour- 
nal just after this battle, gives a partial account of what took 
place among and in front of the remaining eight companies of 
the regiment, which under the immediate command of Lieuten- 
ant Colonel Cummins, were stretched along the line some dis- 
tance to the left of where A and F became engaged. 

" We halted just in the edge of the woods while the Rebel 
cavalry were in the edge of the woods opposite us. While lying 
here we were badly shelled from light batteries. A piece 

of shell about two inches square struck my woolen blanket just 
over my shoulder, but fortunately did not hurt me. Presently 
the Rebel cavalry charged down upon us across an open field 
in front. We fired a volley into them, at which they wheeled 
quickly, put spurs to their horses, and got out of range. We 
delivered our volley too soon. If we had retained it about one 
minute longer, and allowed them to come close to us, undoubtedly 
we would have done greater execution. We were now ordered 
up, and moved to the right, as skirmishers in the woods. The 
underbrush was quite thick, so that we could see but a short dis- 
tance in front of us. We laid down behind trees and remained 
there in deep suspense, keeping a sharp watch for the approach of 
the enemy There was constant firing at the right of us, and 
also considerable firing in the distance at the left. An occasional 
shell would burst among us, which would rouse us up for a while. 
At last we caught a glimpse of some four or five Rebel skirmish- 
ers stealing toward us through the brush. I raised up on my 
knees and fired at one of them. I am unable to say whether I 
struck him or not. They kept concealed behind trees, some three 
or four bullets passed near me, and two bullets hit a tree behind 
which one of our men was concealed. They had caught sight of 
him and fired at him. There was a man in Company E? 



152 HISTORY OF THE 124TH NEW YOKK VOLUNTEERS. 

lying about two rods from me, behind a large oak tree. A shell 
came and struck about ten feet from him, plowed a furrow 
through the ground about six feet, then bounded and struck him 
in the side, tearing him in a dreadful manner. He gave two or 
three shrieks, and called for his comrades to carry him oif, 
which was done ; but, poor fellow, he soon died. Pieces of his 
clothing lay by the tree in a pool of blood, and the crackers from 
his haversack lay scattered about, almost as fine as powder. 
After the shell had done its work of destruction, it bounded some 
ten feet farther and entered a solid white oak tree, a foot in 
diameter, and cut it nearly off. There were two or three 
wounded Rebels lying only a few feet from us. They had been 
shot and their horses lay by them. Late in the afternoon, 

we received orders to fall back toward the Ford." 

The man in Company E, above referred to, was private Miles 
Vance, who it is said besought the men who carried him to the 
rear to put a ball through his head and end his sufferings ; and 
when they refused to do it, he begged of them to go and bring 
Lieutenant Charles B. Wood to him, " for," said he, " we were 
schoolmates, and when he sees me, torn in this way and dying 
by inches, I know he will grant my request. Lieutenant Wood 
was at the time commanding Company E, and had seen Vance 
hit, but before this strange request was conveyed to him the 
poor fellow had ceased to breathe. 

About five o'clock we were ordered to fall back, and on 
returning to the Ford recrossed the river, moved about a mile 
beyond and bivouacked for the night in a pine grove. The fol- 
lowing is a complete list of the members of the 124th, 

KILLED AND WOUNDED AT BEVEKLEY'S FOKD. 

COMPANY A. 

Private Frank Rhinefield.. .. , .. .Killed. 

" John \V Swim. .. .. Wounded. 

" James Jones. .. 

" Edward Rice 

" John Polhamus. .. 

" Daniel Ackerman 

" Joseph Gardner 

Samuel Clark 



BEVERLEY'S FORD. 



153 



Private James N. Hazen. . . 
" Sanford L. Gordon. 
" Edward Sharp 



Lieutenant John W. Houston. 
Private Wm. H. Callister 
Corporal Henry H. Hyatt. 
Private John Eaymond 



COMPANY F. 



COMPANY D. 



Wounded. 



.Wounded. 



Private Miles Vance. 



COMPANY E. 



.Killed. 



Private David Lowers... . 



COMPANY G. 



Wounded. 



The company of the 86th N. Y. which Major Cromwell led 
to the support of A and F, of the 124th, lost quite heavily. On 
the morning following the battle, the wounded of both regimen fr 
were sent by cars from Bealton station to Alexandria. 



154: HISTORY OF THE 124TH NEW YOEK VOLUNTEERS. 



CHAPTER IX. 

FROM THE RAPPAHANNOCK TO EMMETSBURG. 

POLLARD, in his " Lost Cause " writes, concerning the con- 
dition of Lee's army just before it started out on what 
came to be known as the Gettysburg campaigns, as follows : 
" During the few weeks following the brilliant victory of Chan- 
cellorsville, never did affairs look so propitious for the Confeder- 
ates. It was thought advisable to clear Virginia, of the 
Federal forces, and put the war back upon the frontier; to relieve 
the Confederate commissariat ; to counterbalance the continual 
retreat of the armies of Tennessee and Mississippi by an advance 
into Northern territory, offer a counterpoise to the movements of 
the enemy in the West, and possibly relieve the pressure there 
on the Confederate armies. General Longstreet was rec;illed 
from North Carolina ; and the army of Northern Virginia prepara- 
tory to the campaign, was re-organized, and divided into three 
equal and distinct corps. To General Longstreet was assigned 
the command of the First corps, consisting of the divisions of 
McLaw, Hood, and Picket ; to General Ewell, who had succeeded 
to the command of Jackson's old corps, were assigned the divis- 
ions of Early, Rodes, and Johnson ; and to General A. P Hill 
was the Third corps given, consisting of the divisions of Ander- 
son, Pender, and Heth. Each of these corps numbered about 
twenty-five thousand men. . New and splendid batteries of 
artillery were added to the army ; the troops as far as possible, 
were newly equipped, and ordnance trains were filled to their 
utmost capacity- The cavalry, fifteen thousand strong, were 
reviewed at Brandy Station ; crowds of ladies attended the dis- 
play, and General Stuart, the gallant commander, whose only 
weakness was military foppery and an inordinate desire of female 



FROM THE RAPPAHANNOCK TO EMMETSBUKG. 155 

admiration, rode along the lines on a horse almost covered with 
bouquets. Nearly a week Avas consumed in re\ r iewing cavalry, 
infantry, and artillery By the 1st of June all was in readiness, 
and the advance was ordered." According to official Confeder- 
ate reports, Lee's aggregate present on the 31st day of May was 
88,754. 

The strength of Hooker's army in the meantime had been, 
very materially reduced. Since the battle of Chancellorsville 
fifty odd regiments had been mustered out of the service because 
of the expiration of the terms for which they had enlisted. 
General Hooker, in a letter Avritten to President Lincoln just 
as his army was leaving Falmouth, says, " My marching infantry 
force is cut down to about eight?/ thousand men." General Pleas- 
onton, in his report dated May 27th, gives the effective force 
of the cavalry branch of Hooker's army at " four thousand six 
hundred and seventy-seven horse. 1 ' For once it was acknowl- 
edged by the Confederates that the opposing armies were about 
equal in numbers. 

On the 28th of May General Hooker telegraphed to Sec- 
retary Stanton as follows: "You may rest assured that impor- 
tant movements are being made. I am in doubt as to the 
direction he (Lee) will take, but probably the one of last year, 
however desperate it- may appear." Hooker now determined to 
learn, if possible, just Avhat Lee was doing. The following 
extract from an account of the crossing of the Rappahannock 
beloAv Fredericksburgh on the 5th of June, which I find recorded 
in Moore's Rebellion Record, explains the thundering of artillery 
the day before we left Falmouth. 

" Yesterday morning — June 5th, — the Engineer brigade was 
ordered to proceed to the river with a pontoon train sufficient 
for two bridges. Howe's splendid fighting division of the Sixth 
corps was selected for the work of crossing, and the point for 
laying the bridges was just below the mouth of Deep Run. 
Our infantry and artillery, as well as the engineers, began to 
debouch on the open plain opposite the crossing soon after noon, 
but, for some reason, active operations were not commenced 



156 HISTORY OF THE 124TH NEW YORK VOLUNTEERS. 

until about five o'clock. During the afternoon the pickets of the 
enemy lounged on the opposite bank. Save this picket of 

the enemy, no force was visible and the impression was strong 
that the enemy had left. About five o'clock the engineers drove 
their teams down to the river-bank and commenced unloading. 
The rebels at once betook themselves to the rifle-pits and com- 
menced firing. Their rifle-pit here is a very strong one, and our 
men were within very close range. Quite a number of the Engi- 
neers were soon wounded, and it was evident that the old and suc- 
cessful method of pushing men across in boats would have to be 
adopted. General Howe at once ordered the 26th New Jersey, 
Colonel Morrison, to man the boats and push over and storm the 
rifle-pits. Six of the batteries of the Sixth corps were placed in 
position on the plain, and for nearly two hours shelled the rifle- 
pits. The rebels stuck to their position until the gallant Jersey- 
men set foot on the south side of the river. when they 
fled before the rapid charge of our men. Some sixty or seventy 
prisoners were soon brought in, being the main part of the force 
which had occupied the rifle-pit. By dark our skirmishers had 
advanced nearly to the timber beyond the Bowling Green road, 
without having met the enemy in force.' 1 

Early the following morning General Howe continued his 
advance, but was speedily brought to a stand by a portion of 
General A. P Hill's corps, which yet remained in and about 
Fredericksburgh and gave the impression that the bulk of Lee's 
army was yet there. 

A dispatch from General Hooker to General Hallock, dated 
June 6th, contains the following, which will explain the nature 
and object of the movement, in which the 124th had been called 
to play a part. " As the accumulation of the heavy rebel force 
of cavalry about Culpepper may mean mischief, I am determined 
to break it up in its incipiency I shall send all my cavalry 
against them stiffened by about three thousand infantry " 

The cavalry corps of the army of the Potomac was now com- 
manded by General Pleasonton, and consisted of two divisions 
under Generals Gregg and Buford. The infantry selected to 



KEOM THE EAPPAHANNOCK TO EMMETSBUR6. 157 

accompany and " stiffen " the cavalry on the expedition referred 
to, consisted of ten small veteran regiments, the 124 th being 
the youngest among them. Six weeks before we had been 
classed among the untried recruits ; but since our bloody baptism 
at Chancellorsville the name of the 124th New York Volunteers 
had been transferred to the roll of " First class, tried and to be 
trusted, Veteran Battalions." 

Five of these infantry regiments and a light battery were 
placed under command of General Russell, and accompanied 
General Gregg's division, which, on the morning of the 9th, 
crossed the river at Kelley's Ford, six miles below Beverley's. 
The 86th and 124th, with three other regiments and a battery, 
were commanded by General Ames, and operated with Buford's 
division, which crossed at Beverley's Ford before daylight on 
the morning of the 9th, and favored by a slight mist succeeded, 
without loss, in capturing the enemy's pickets there posted. 
General Pleasanton accompanied Buford, and as soon as the divis- 
ion reached the southern shore, ordered an advance in force. 
They had moved but a short distance when they came upon and 
engaged a brigade of cavalry, under command of the Confederate 
General Jones, which was speedily forced back some two miles, 
when a portion of the charging Federal line tumbled headlong 
into a blind ditch — the same, I presume, in which the dismounted 
Confederate cavalry so suddenly disappeared from in front of 
Companies A and F of the 124th, an hour or two later. 

While the Federal cavalry were floundering in this ditch, 
Jones was reinforced by the brigades of Generals W H. F Lee 
and Wade Hampton, and Buford's advance was checked. In 
the meantime the five regiments of infantry under General Ames 
had crossed the river, taken possession of, and formed in battle 
lines at intervals, in the edge of a piece of woods about one and a 
quarter miles in extent. Before Buford's men could be got to- 
gether after their tumble into the ditch, the brigades of Lee and 
Hampton were upon them ; and being thrown upon the defen- 
sive, they were formed in the open fields on the flanks of the 
wooded center held by the infantry After this disposition of 



158 HISTORY OF THE 124TH NEW YORK VOLUNTEERS. 

the Union forces at that point, considerable skirmishing and a 
number of charges and countercharges were made, without any 
material advantage to either side. 

General Gregg's division, with the five regiments of infantry 
under General Russell, had crossed the river at Kelley's Ford, 
between the hours of six and nine a. m., without meeting any 
opposition except such as could be given by a rebel picket force, 
composed of one officer and twenty men. As soon as his entire 
force had reached the southern shore, Gregg formed it in four 
columns and took up a line of march toward Brandy Station, at 
which place he expected to form a junction with Buford's division. 
Gregg however soon became engaged with a Confederate force 
of cavalry under General Robertson, which, after considerable 
fighting, he succeeded in driving before him; and about one p. m. 
connected with the left of Buford's line. After this the battle 
dwindled to a mere skirmish fight. During the afternoon large 
columns of infantry were discovered moving to the support of the 
enemy's cavalry and at four p. m. General Pleasanton decided to 
withdraw to the northern shore of the Rappahannock. 

The total loss during the day was about eight hundred on 
each side. Mr. Crounse, of the New York Times, in his admira- 
ble report of the battle, says, "The infantry force selected chal- 
lenged particular admiration. The regiments were small, but 
they were reliable — such for instance as the. 86th and 

124th New York." 

The Richmond Sentinel's account says, " The fighting fluc- 
tuated throughout the day, lasting from five to five — twelve long 
hours. It was doubtless the severest and most extensive cavalry 
fight of the war. The scene lay chiefly on the farm owned by 
the late John S. Barbour, sen. The enemy made much use of 
their sharp-shooters, who, from the shelter of the adjacent timber, 
did us considerable damage." 

The Richmond Examiner of June 12th comments as follows: 

" The more the circumstances of the late affair at Brandy Sta- 
tion are considered, the less pleasant do they appear. The 
country pays dearly for the blunders which encourage the enemy 



FROM THE RAPPAHANNOCK TO EMMETSBURG. 159 

to overrun and devastate the land with a cavalry which is daily 
learning to despise the mounted troops of the Confederacy It 
is high time this branch of the service should be reformed. The 
surprise on this occasion was the most complete that has occurred. 
The Confederate cavalry was carelessly strewn over the country 
and they were surprised, caught at breakfast, made 
prisoners on foot with guns empty and horses grazing. Although 
the loss was insignificant, the events of the morning were among 
the least creditable that have 'occurred. Later some of the best 
officers sacrificed their lives to redeem the day A very fierce 
fight ensued, in which, it is said, for the first time in this war, a 
considerable number of sabre wounds were given and received. 
In the end the enemy retired or was driven, it is not yet clearly 
known which, across the river. Nor is it certainly known whethre 
the fortunate result was achieved by the cavalry alone, or with 
the assistance of the Confederate infantry in the neighborhood. 
As the Southern troops remained masters of the field, and as 
they are believed to have taken at least as many prisoners toward 
the close of the day as they lost in the morning, they may be 
considered victors. But it is a victory over which few will 
exult." This is rather severe on the guerilla chief, Jones, as 
well as on the gallant Stuart, " whose only weakness was military 
foppery and an inordinate desire of female admiration." 

There was captured during this engagement — which Northern 
historians term the battle of Beverley's Ford, but which the 
majority of Southern writers call the battle of Fleetwood — certain 
Confederate correspondence which at once revealed the presence 
of a large portion of Lee\s army at Culpepper, and made known 
his design of invasion. This information was immediately for- 
warded to General Hooker at Falmouth, who forthwith set his 
army in motion, and at four p. m. on the 12th the advance brigade 
of our corps appeared, and encamped near Bealton Station, in the 
vicinity of which the 86th and 124th had been resting since 
recrossing the river on the evening of the 9 th. 

About six p. m. on the 12th the 124th was ordered back to the 
river, and placed on picket for the night near the station at Kap- 



160 HISTORY OF THE 124TH NEW YORK VOLUNTEERS 

pahannock R. R. bridge. We saw small squads of the enemy's 
cavalry on the opposite shore, but no infantry The night 
passed quietly The next morning we were withdrawn from the 
picket line and moved back a few rods to a piece of woods where, 
after cooking our coffee and lying around for an hour or two, we 
were set to work throwing up a line of rifle-pits. As soon as 
these were completed we lay down behind them, and without 
further molestation from friends or foes spent the remainder of 
the day and following night. 

Early Sunday morning, June 14th, we moved back to and 
bivouacked in the same piece of woods where we had spent the 
previous Sunday night. That afternoon we learned that the 
old Whipple division had ceased to exist. Its terrible losses at 
Chancellorsville, and the muster out of several regiments imme- 
diately after, had reduced it to a mere skeleton — five small regi- 
ments, numbering, all told for duty, on the 10th of June, the day 
it was ordered broken up, less than twelve hundred men. Ber- 
dan's sharp-shooters and the 86th and 124th New York were 
assigned to General J. H. Hobart Ward's brigade of Major Gen- 
eral D. B. Birney's division. 

Our new brigadier was a dark complexioned, stern-looking 
man, about fifty years of age, stood six feet three, weighed 
about two hundred and forty pounds, and when mounted on his 
iron grey charger looked a very giant. Instead of any personal 
remarks concerning his military experience, character, and stand- 
ing in the army at the time, 1 will insert several extracts from 
published letters and official reports concerning him : 

" General Ward served with me in the campaign between Vera Cruz 
and the capital of Mexico, with great zeal, activity, and distinction. 

"Wineield Scott." 

From the official accounts of the battle of Williamsburgh — " I report 
as having conspicuously distinguished himself, Colonel J. H. Hobart Ward, 
38th New York Volunteers. 

'P. Kearney, Brigadier General 

Comdg. 1st Division 3rd Corps." 



<n 



FROM THE EAPPAHANNOCK TO EMMETSBURG. 161 

From his report of battle of Fair Oaks—" My warmest thanks are also 
tendered to Colonel Ward for the promptness with which his brigade was 
brought into action, and the gallant manner in which he fought it. 

"Joseph Hooker, Brigadier General, 

Oomclg. 2nd Division 3d Corps." 

"September 4th, 1862. 

" I have the honor to call the attention of the General commanding 
to the gallant conduct of Colonel J. H. Hobart Ward, 38th Regiment New 
York Volunteers, during the movements of this command on the Penin- 
sula, and before Washington. 

"D. B. Birney, Brigadier General." 

"October 4th, 1S62. 

"There has been no Colonel in my command who has rendered 
more efficient and gallant services during the recent campaign on the 
Peninsula, both as a Colonel, and when temporarily in command of a 
brigade. 

"P Helntzleman, Major General, Comdg. 3d Corps." 

General Ward had received his brigadier's commission about 
the 4th of October, 1862, and been assigned to the command of 
Kearney's old brigade, with the remnant of which we had now 
been consolidated. 

Our new division commander, D. B. Birney, though lacking 
in that fatherly kindness and solicitude for the welfare of those 
under him, which characterized the lamented Whipple, had served 
with great distinction in nearly every battle fought by the army 
of the Potomac, up to that time, and was regarded, with reference 
to his fighting qualities, as second to no division commander then 
in the field. 

Our brave Ellis had returned to the immediate command of 
his regiment, and notwithstanding the fact that our old brigade 
and division had been broken up, it was very plain to all of us 
that we would be called upon to play no trivial part in the next 
great battle, for were we not to enter the field under fighting 
commanders, and stand or fall by the side of the army's oldest 
and as yet most famous battalions. 

The Third Corps was now assembled about Bealton Station. 
At three o'clock Sunday afternoon the buglers at the various 



162 HISTORY OF THE 124TH NEW YOEK VOLUNTEEES. 

headquarters sounded the attention, and we were soon on the 
march again — not pushing forward toward Richmond but hurry- 
ing back toward Washington. At eleven p. m. we had made 
about twelve miles, and bivouacked for the night at Catlett's 
Station. 

At six o'clock on the morning of the 15th we were off again 
— moved through or past Brentsville, Bristow Station, and Ma- 
nassas Junction, and when darkness set in, lay down to rest on 
Manassas Plains. This was a very severe march. The dis- 
tance traveled was but sixteen miles and the roads were good, 
but the heat of the sun was terrible. A large number were 
obliged to fall out, and about fifty of the corps were sun-struck. 
At noon we halted for a. short rest at Bristow Station, where we 
found encamped the 15th Vermont. They had just drawn a 
ration of soft bread, and were boiling their coffee. As our almost 
exhausted men who had been obliged to leave the ranks, but 
were trying to keep up with the column, came staggering in, 
these Green Mountain boys distributed to them their entire 
ration of soft bread and the hot coffee they had just prepared for 
their own dinner. And when our ambulances with the victims 
of sun-stroke came up, they voluntarily turned their camp into a 
temporary hospital, and themselves into nurses — vacated their 
tents as far as they were needed, brought water, and did every- 
thing else in their power to alleviate the sufferings and preserve 
the lives of the unfortunates. When after a half hour's halt our 
men were ordered to fall in, and the column started on again, 
some one proposed three cheers for the big-hearted sons of Ver- 
mont, and they were given with a will. 

On the 16th we were up with the sun, and after breakfast 
moved on about three miles and stacked arms behind an old rifle 
pit, on the battle-ground of first Bull Run. Colonel Ellis, Lieu- 
tenants Wood and Grier, and a considerable number of our enlisted 
men, who had participated in that engagement, said the country 
round about looked very familiar, and called to mind many of 
the ludicrous scenes of that appropriately-named engagement, 
which was in reality but a series of military blunders that ter- 



FROM THE RAPPAHANNOCK TO EMMETSBURG. 163 

minated in a general stampede. We spent twenty-four hours at 
that point, during which time all hands bathed in the famous 
but insignificant stream from which two battles had derived a 
name. There had not been a pound of soap issued to our regi- 
ment since its departure from Falmouth, and this opportunity to 
bathe was most welcome. During the afternoon nearly all those 
who had fallen out on the march the day before came up, and 
all awoke on the following morning refreshed and ready for the 
work that was before them. 

On the 17th, after a slow and easy march of about five miles, 
we bivouacked near Centreville. The next afternoon the sky 
clouded, and anticipating a storm, the men one after another, 
without orders, put up their tents, and dug small trenches around 
them to keep the water out. Just before dark, a heavy shower 
came up, and the rain continued to fall at intervals until ten 
o'clock the following morning. 

At two p. m. on the 19th we struck tents and an hour later 
were under way again. As evening approached, a drizzling rain 
storm set in, and the last five hours of our march — which did not 
end until after midnight — was made in almost total darkness, 
through heavy mud, and slush from three to ten inches deep. We 
had passed by Grum Springs, and were pushing forward on a road 
which led toward Leesburgh. Several white horses were mov- 
ing in rear of the regiment which preceded us, and 1 tried to 
keep the head of our column from ten to fifteen paces away, but 
every now and then we would get past Colonel Ellis and run 
into them, or receive notice of our too near approach, by being 
slashed in the face with their muddy tails. Occasionally one of 
our number would tumble into a hole filled with water which 
came up to his knees, and then another would trip or stumble 
over something, and fall head foremost in the mud 

At last the orders " Halt your regiment, file in the field to 
your right, and bivouac until morning," came from an unseen 
officer who, I judged, from the sound of his voice, sat on his horse 
by the side -of the road, not ten feet away from me. But the 
field was worse than the road, the men sank half way to their 



164 HISTOEY OF THE 124TH NEW YORK VOLUNTEERS. 

knees, and the horses floundered so that their riders were either 
thrown or obliged to dismount. And as they plunged about in 
the black darkness, several of our men were injured by being 
trodden upon. Colonel Ellis tumbled with his horse into a ditch, 
but fortunately escaped with no greater injury than an extra 
coating of Virginia mud. 

Presently, by hallooing to one another, the regiment was 
formed in a supposed line, and Ellis shouted at the top of his 
voice, partly, I have no doubt, for the benefit of his new brigade 
and division commanders — whose headquarters he supposed to 
be within hearing distance — the rather unique militar order, 
" Squat, my bullfrogs. v We were in a swampy meadow, the rain 
continued and the damp night air chilled us. Very few of out- 
number had blankets, but we made the best of our unavoidably 
uncomfortable situation, and squatting or lying down with our 
shelter tents about or under us, nearly all managed to get a 
little sleep. 

It is needless to state that we awoke the following morning 
wet, stiff and sore ; and as to dirt — well, I wish some of the fair 
daughters of Old Orange could have beheld their " gay and dash- 
ing soldier boys " just then — perhaps they would have rushed to 
the mud covered arms of the " brave fellows " for a loving 
embrace, gently removed the particles of clay which Jung to the 
jaunty goatee or mustache, and with their taper fingers have 
dusted the dirt from the glossy, curly hair, who knows ? 

At day-break we moved a quarter of a mile to higher ground, 
borrowed all the loose fence rails in the vicinity which had not 
already been loaned to other regiments, and soon had fires burn- 
ing and coffee boiling. Just after breakfast the sun came out, 
and the men were soon hard at work cleaning their guns and 
traps and whipping the dirt from their clothing. 

Just before starting out on this campaign, I had bought of our 
sutler a seamless felt overcoat, which I carried in place of a 
blanket. I had purposely selected an extra large one, which 
came almost to my feet, and could easily have been buttoned 
around a person of double my size. But ekrly that morning I 



FROM THE RAPPAHANNOCK TO EMMETSBURG. ltio 

awoke dreaming that some one was tying my arms behind me, 
and as I sprang to my feet every button flew off of it, and 
behold ! the skirt did not extend three inches below my waist ! 

On the morning of the 21st the attention was sounded from 
General Ward's headquarters, and our brigade was moved about 
half a mile where, after being dressed in a continuous line, the 
various regiments were caused to form column at full distance, 
and ordered to pitch tents. No objection was made to this 
movement. 

During the afternoon we heard heavy firing in the direction 
of Winchester, and in the evening it was reported that Pleasan- 
ton and Stuart had rencountered near Middleburgh, and that 
after a short and spirited engagement, Stuart's forces had been 
routed with a loss of two pieces of artillery, sixty prisoners, and 
at least a hundred killed and wounded. 

On the afternoon of the 22nd, companies A, F, I, K, G, and 
B, were detailed for picket, marched off some five miles, and 
remained out three days. During this picket tour considerable 
foraging was done. Fresh beef, veal and poultry abounded. 
Lieutenant J. 0. Denniston, of Company G, who was decidedly 
the most accomplished forager and best liver in the regiment, 
managed somehow to get hold of a fat goose. Now Denniston 
was a good cook, as well as forager, and when at length he had 
succeeded in getting his goose roasted to his entire satisfaction, 
several of his brother officers who had been looking on from a 
distance, concluded to make him a social call — expecting, of 
course, to get an invitation to stay to dinner. We chatted and 
laughed, joked and told stories ; the time slipped by, dinner hour 
passed, the goose got cold and so did Denniston, but not a word 
was said about dinner. 

Lieutenant Denniston is now a Presbyterian minister, and 
I don't want to be understood as implying that either he or his 
men stole that goose. He, like the rest of us, usually foraged 
with money And just here I will record, that in my judgment, 
there was not in the entire army a regiment which committed as 
few depredations, or interfered as little with the enemy's prop- 



166 HISTORY OF THE 124TH NEW YORK VOLUNTEERS. 

erty, as the 124th New York Volunteers. At this particular 
time, however, Lee's entire army was on a grand foraging raid. 
For several days his vanguards had been operating in loyal 
Pennsylvania, pillaging the stores and granaries of the towns 
and country along the border ; while his main army was reach- 
ing out in all directions from the heart of Maryland for the win- 
ter stores and stock and goods of the liberty-loving people of 
that really loyal State. Beside all this, our picket line stretched 
across the broad acres of a notorious traitor who was even then 
on duty in General Lee's army. With these facts in view, the 
most conscientious will not, I am sure, think the less of any one 
concerned because of any suspicious circumstances connected 
with what I am about to relate. 

When, having failed to receive an invitation to partake of 
Lieutenant Denniston's fat goose, I returned to my tent, there 
was hanging from the roof pole in front of it, a fine quarter of fresh 
veal ; while my cook had ready to fry a large tender looking beef- 
steak, neither of which I had furnished money to pay for. After 
partaking of a hearty meal I asked him where it came from, and 
he replied unhesitatingly that, though he did not really know, he 
guessed the chaplain or surgeon Montfort, or some of u them fel- 
lers" over at headquarters, had been out and bought it of an old 
farmer — who lived just through a piece of woods a short distance 
to the left of our grand reserve — and having more than they 
could well carry back, concluded to leave me some. " For, do 
you know," he added, " meat is awful cheap out here." 

Just after breakfast on the 25th, we received orders to pack 
and get ready for a march. At half past six our videttes were 
withdrawn and at seven we started back toward camp; but just 
before we reached it, our way was blocked by a moving column 
of troops belonging to our corps, and we lay down on the grass 
in a meadow by the side of the road, and waited until Colonel 
Ellis came along with the balance of the regiment. Once in the 
column we pushed on all day at a rapid gait, with but slight 
halts — crossed the Potomac on pontoons at Edwards' Ferry, 
near Ball's Bluff, and bivouacked for the night in a piece of woods 



FROM THE RAPPAHANNOCK TO E M METSBU R G. 167 

near Poolsville. This was one of the severest marches, as to 
length and rapidity, we had ever made. Those of our number 
who had been on picket, could not have traveled less than thirty 
miles. But we had all been living well for a number of days, 
started that morning in the best of spirits, and stood the march 
first-rate — hardly a man falling out. 

Just before this march was ordered, a civilian by the name of 
Milner Brown, who had been appointed by Governor Seymour 
to a vacant Lieutenancy in Company I, arrived at Colonel Ellis' 
headquarters. The regiment was at the time short of line 
officers, and when his company joined the column that morn- 
ing, Lieutenant Brown was assigned to the command of it. 
Those readers who have been in the service know what kind 
of a reception is usually given a civilian who is sent to command 
veteran soldiers. 

After the regiment had halted that evening, this new officer, 
who had not once left his place at the head of his company, 
nor uttered a word of complaint, nor asked a favor of any 
one — though all in the regiment knew that he was suffering 
terribly — was seen sitting alone on a log, and by the flickering 
light of a candle piercing the yet solid flesh of his tender 
feet, to tap the live blisters with which they were almost 
covered; and then to slip on his shoes and w T alk off without 
showing the sign of a limp, his standing in the regiment was 
instantly raised. The bitter feeling against him, which had all 
day rankled in the breasts of the brave men of Company I, gave 
way before an incoming feeling of admiration and respect. In 
the morning he was hated as an interloper, and had he that day 
fallen dead by the roadside, I doubt if there was an enlisted man 
in the regiment who would have volunteered to bury him. At 
night he was respected by the whole command, and there were 
men in his company who were ready to risk their lives in 
defence of their " plucky " new Lieutenant. But alas ! before he 
had time to become fairly acquainted with his brother officers, or 
to learn half the good qualities of the men under him, he, and not a 
few of them, lay dead together on the bloody field of Gettysburgh. 



168 HISTORY OF THE 124TH NEW YORK VOLUNTEERS. 

The following morning, June 26th, we marched about twelve 
miles, and bivouacked near Point of Rocks. On the 27th, 
moved eleven miles and rested for the night near Middletown. 
On the 28th we passed through Frederick, a city of considerable 
size and beauty, since made famous by Whittier's " Barbara Frit- 
chie." We trod the same street which Jackson's men some 
nine or ten months before had traveled, and must have passed by 
that old house where, 

' ' Up rose old Barbara Fritchie then 
Bowed with four score years and ten. 

" Bravest of all in Frederick town 

She took up the flag the men hauled down. 

" In her attic window, the staff she set 
To show that one heart was loyal yet." 

But old Barbara Fritchie's was not the only loyal heart in 
Frederick when we passed through. In no southern town or 
city, during our three years wanderings up and down through 
Virginia and Maryland, did we find half so many outspoken 
loyal women as we that day met with at Frederick. It was very 
warm and at nearly every second garden gate, or doorway, there 
stood loyal, smiling mothers not unfrequently accompanied by 
comely daughters, all eagerly passing to our thirsty soldiers pure 
cold water, and it is beyond belief how thirsty our young men 
were, and the quantity they drank. 

The first group we met, after entering the city, was composed 
of a Quaker-dressed, grey-haired matron, and two very fine- 
appearing young ladies, who were apparently her grand-daughters. 
A colored man was " toting " water from a well near by, and the 
young ladies, each with two cut glass goblets, were dealing it 
out from wonderfully bright -looking pails. As Company A was 
moving past them, one of my men, who was notoriously bashful 
but really thirsty, ran up with his face down but eyes raised, 
and thrusting his arm between two men who stood there drink- 
ing, was in the act of dipping a cup of water from one of the 
pails ; when the old lady with a horrified scream, sprang forward 
and caught hold of his arm, saying as she did so, " Lizzie ! Liz- 



FEOM THE RAPPAHANNOCK TO EMMETSBUEG. 163 

zie ! Don't let that man spoil your pail of nice clean water 
with that horrid, nasty black cup." This was too much for our 
bashful but brave soldier, who rushed back to the ranks, looking; 
for all the world as if he had been caught in the act of stealing 
something, and made no further effort to quench his thirst until 
we came to a stream beyond the limits of the city 

We lay down to sleep that night in a beautiful green field 
about four miles beyond Frederick. When we awoke next morn- 
ing, June 29th, it was raining quite hard and not a few of our 
number found themselves lying in puddles of water several inches 
deep. At half past five a.m. our column was in motion again, 
and before the order " Halt for the night," was given, we had 
marched twenty-five miles, and were north of Taneytown. 

About two o'clock on the 30th, we got under way again, 
countermarched, moved back through Taneytown and taking the 
Greencastle road, pushed on to Emmetsburg, near which place 
we bivouacked for the night. I find recorded in my diary under 
that date, the following : 

" The men of our regiment are in tolerably good spirits but 
have lost considerable flesh during the last week, and complain 
bitterly whenever we start on a march, of the pain in their swol- 
len, blistered feet. The country through which we have for 
several days been moving, is fertile and well cultivated. The 
villages contain many fine cottages, and the people generally 
appear to be strongly Union in sentiment." 



170 HISTORY OF THE 124TH NEW YORK VOLUNTEERS. 



CHAPTER X. 



GETTYSBURG. 



EMMETSBURG, Tuesday Evening, June 30th.— The cam- 
paign thus far has been unusually severe. Our regiment 
left Falmouth on the 6th instant with nearly if not quite three 
hundred rifles; and since that date upwards of fifty convales- 
cents and detached men have rejoined us. But our losses at 
Beverley's Ford, added to the number who have in the mean- 
time fallen from sun-stroke, been stricken down by disease, or so 
completely worn out physically by our terribly severe marches 
that we have been obliged to send them off to hospitals, reaches 
the appalling sum total of ninet} r -eight men. When we assem- 
bled for our monthly muster this morning there were but two 
hundred and sixty -four rifles in the line. 

Just after muster, orders which announced a change of com- 
manders and stated that Hooker had given place to General 
Meade, of the Fifth corps, were read at the head of each regiment. 
Now every intelligent soldier believed that we were on the eve 
of a great, if not a decisive battle, and at first quite a number 
shook their heads as if saying to themselves, " There is some- 
thing wrong somewhere." But the majority remembering that 
Hooker had been found wanting at Chancellorsville, expressed 
their feelings in regard to the change of commanders at that 
critical period, in such terms as the following, " I'm satisfied. 
It's all right boys. That's ' Old Pennsylvania Reserves,' — they 
say he's a IricltP These remarks came in whispered tones from 
the ranks behind me, just after the orders referred to had been 
read. Half an hour later a man in Company F, who had just 
finished boiling a cup of coffee, raised it toward his lips, and 
striking a sort of stage attitude, shouted " Soldiers of the army 



GETTYSBURG-. 171 

of the Potomac ; take out your little Mammy Random books ; I 
am neither a prophet, nor yet the son of a prophet, nevertheless, 
I am about to prophesy, so draw pencils, ready ! aim ! The 
traitor army of Northern Virginia, in the trackless forests of 
Virginia, surrounded on all sides by traitorous Virginians, and 
commanded by the arch traitors Lee and Jackson of Virginia, 
is one thing. But Lee and his army, without Jackson, on open 
northern soil, surrounded by loyal men, women and children of 
the north, is another thing. The next battle is on the free soil 
of old Pennsylvania, and Lee is whipped, no matter who com- 
mands us — do you hear me? shoulder pencils. Parade is 
dismissed." 

This bombastic semi-comical speech, in reality expressed 
the profound convictions of not only the man who uttered it, but 
of nineteen out of every twenty in the army of the Potomac ; 
and when a Pennsylvanian standing near replied — " You are 
right, my boy," and proposed " three cheers for the sentiment," 
they were given with a will by all who heard him. 

The first day of July broke clear and bright, and the sun as 
it moved toward the zenith, had an angry look and sent down 
upon us blistering rays. We were lying within two miles of the 
State line. The day before the First and Eleventh corps had 
moved over into Pennsylvania, and about two o'clock that after- 
noon, as we lay upon the ground, one after another asserted that 
they could hear the rumbling of distant artillery. A few moments 
later sharp bugle blasts from every direction called us into line. 
Our brigade then moved through Emmetsburg, and filed off 
into a green field just beyond the village, where we remained 
until several other brigades had moved past, when we fell in 
again, and started off after them at quick time, on a forced 
march for Gettysburg. 

As we hurried along, the booming of cannon, at first scarcely 
heard, gradually became more distinct. Quickening our pace 
we pushed on through clouds of thick dust which continually 
rolled back, enveloped, and almost choked us, while the terrible 
rays of the sun seemed momentarily to grow more intense. 



172 HISTORY OF THE 124TH NEW YORK VOLUNTEERS. 

Soon strong men began to stagger from the ranks and fall faint- 
ing by the wayside, but our pace was not slackened. Louder 
and fiercer boomed the yet distant guns, and forward men, for- 
ward, shouted the officers. Every piece of woods we passed 
through was left almost filled with gasping prostrate men ; and 
all along the road, with no one to care for them, lay the dying, 
and in not a few instances the dead, who had fallen from the 
column ahead of us. But forward ! forward ! was the cry, and 
on, on we pushed. Blankets, tents, clothing and even food, guns 
and cartridge-boxes lay strewn along the line of march. Two- 
thirds of the time our field and staff officers were dismounted 
and their horses loaded down with the guns of men who had 
become too weak to carry them ; and when at length we reached 
the high ground just south of Gettysburg, and the order to halt 
for the night was received, not over a hundred men and but five 
or six officers appeared in our regimental line. But the conflict 
for that day was over. During the greater part of the afternoon 
(he First and Eleventh corps, composed of about twenty-two 
thousand men, had, it was said, been engaged with a body of the 
enemy which had gradually increased in numbers during the 
bloody contest, from five to fifty thousand. 

It was now generally understood, by both officers and private 
soldiers that the two grand armies were concentrating in that 
vicinity ; and it was believed by many that a general battle, 
upon the issue of which hung the destiny of America, would be 
fought there on the morrow. 

All who had arrived upon the field slept that night with their 
loaded weapons lying beside them, and at roll-call the next 
morning, the majority of those who had given out and fallen 
behind during our forced march from Emmetsburg, answered to 
their names ; and when at eight a. m. General Ward led his 
brigade forward to the position which had been assigned it, the 
124th was about two hundred and forty strong. 

Sickles' corps did not number that morning, over nine thou- 
sand men present for duty. It was composed of two divisions 
of three brigades each. Birney's division formed the extreme 



GETTYSBURG. 173 

left of the main line, which was drawn up nearly in form of a 
horseshoe or capital U, on a ridge about three miles in extent 
Ward's brigade was on the left of the division and occupied the 
southern slope of a rocky eminence just beyond a small stream 
called Plum Run, and about an eighth of a mile northwest of 
Round Top. The 124th held position in the right centre of the 
brigade. There were, when the battle began, no troops to the 
left of our regiment except the 99th Pennsylvania. * The 88th 
New York was posted in a piece of woods, to the right of the 
124 th, but between that regiment and ours there was an unoc- 
cupied space of about a hundred yards. Smith's Battery was 
posted behind our brigade ; its right section stood on high ground 
several yards in rear of the 124th. 

We had not yet learned by bitter experience the inestimable 
value of breastworks, and instead of spending our leisure time in 
rolling together the loose stones and throwing over them such a 
quantity of earth as would have formed a bullet proof line, we 
lounged about on the grass and rocks, quietly awaiting the com- 
ing shock, which many declared themselves ready and anxious 
to receive. But there were undoubtedly those among us who 
ardently wished and perhaps secretly prayed that when the 
battle opened, it might rage the most furiously along some other 
portion of the line. 

Two-thirds of the day was consumed by the opposing gen- 
erals, in endeavoring to discover the weak points in each other's 
lines, and in getting ready for the dread encounter. During 
all this time an ominous silence prevailed, broken only by the 
occasional exchange of rifle shots by skirmishers or sharp- 
shooters who, on crawling out in front of their respective lines 
would unwittingly approach uncomfortably near each other, or 
the angry mutterings of a gun as a solitary shell went screech- 
ing through the air. 

Early in the morning it was reported that Lee's entire army 
had arrived upon the field, but as they remained inactive hour 

* A few moments after the battle opened the 40th New York moved up and took 
position on the left of the 99th Pennsylvania. 



174 HISTORY OF THE 124TH NEW YORK VOLUNTEERS. 

after hour, it was positively asserted by the knowing ones that 
the Confederate chief, not having Stonewall with him, couldn't get 
a clear conception of the topography of that particular section, 
and preferred to have his adversary assume the offensive. But 
the Federal commander had no desire that the battle should 
begin until Sedgwick arrived with the Sixth corps, which at ten 
o'clock on the previous evening, was at Manchester, thirty-two 
miles away. 

At mid-day a cloud of dust was discovered in the dim dis- 
tance, and at two p. m. Sedgwick's advance brigade arrived upon 
the scene ; whereupon General Meade mounted, and after order- 
ing the Fifth corps which had held position on the right to move 
over to the left, he rode hurriedly along the line from right to left 1 
to see for himself if all the troops were in the positions he had 
assigned them. He also desired to personally superintend the 
posting of his old corps on the left of the Third, for it was his 
intention to prolong his line in that direction. But I will explain 
by quoting from his official report of the battle, why General 
Meade did not complete his programme. 

" About three p. m. I rode out to the extreme left to await 
the arrival of the Fifth corps and post it. .. Having found 

Major General Sickles, I was explaining to him that he was too 
far in advance, and discussing with him the propriety of with- 
drawing, when the enemy opened upon him with several batteries 
in his front and his flank, and immediately brought forward 
columns of infantry and made a vigorous assault. The Third 
corps sustained the shock most heroically" 

General Lee, it appears, " at length selected that portion of 
the Union line held by Birney's division, as the most practicable 
point of attack," and ordered Longstreet to open the battle by 
hurling against it his powerful corps of between twenty and 
thirty thousand men. At about three p. m. a dozen Confederate 
batteries opened upon us in a most furious manner, and Smith's 
guns in our rear, and a number of Federal batteries in the vicin- 
ity, forthwith began to reply. Presently long solid lines of infan- 
try appeared advancing directly against us. 



fg, on afternoon of July 2d, 



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Corp. N.Hershler. 
Jndaon P. Adams. 
Levi Cart-wright. 
Henry R. Broadhead. 
Samuel S. Crawford. 
William C. Van Sickle. 
Amsey W. Quick. 
Isaac G, Gillson. 
Charles Roberty. 
Corp. J. H. Taylor. 
Corp. T. R. Alhngton. 
Corp. 0. U. Knapp. 



Corp. Ezra Hyatt. 
Norman A. Sly. 
John C. Degraw. 
John W. L< j eper. 
William E. Hyatt. 
Hans. S. Lameroux. 
Carl G. Hoofman. 
Thomas M. Hyatt. 
Thomas S. Storms. 
Thomas P. Powell. 
Corp. H. H, Hyatt. 
Corp. G. H. Pelton. 



Corp. A. P. Millspaugb. 
Jeduthan Millspaugh. 
James T. Thitchener. 
Cornelius S. Allen. 
Ransalaer D. "Baird. 
Nathaniel Jackson. 
Charles Edwards. 
John T. Laroe. 
Henry R. Turner. 
James S. Barrett. 
Corp. S. Chalmers. 



Corp. William Mead. 
Duncan W. Boyd. 
Frederick Lamereaux. 
Thomas Rodman. 
Wm. W. Amerman. 
William R. Owen. 
Corp. George W. Briggs. 



Corp. Isaac Becker, "K." 
Col. Bearer S. McQuaid." 
Corp. M. Rensler, " F." 



Corp. Noah Kimbark. 
Judson B. Lupton. 
William McVav. 
E. D. Van Keuren. 
S. S. Youugblood. 
William H. Brown, 
Charles W. Tindall. 
Thomas O'Connell. 
James K Homan. 
Francis S. Brown. 
Thornton Dawson. 
Wm. S. M. Hatch. 
Gran di son Judson. 
Corp. A. Armstrong. 
Corp. A. R. Rapalje. 



Corp. John H. Little. 
Corp. Wm. H. Howell. 
Corp. George Brown. 
Curtis Ackerman. 
James B. Moors. 
Abraham Rogers. 
Jacob M. Coddington. 
James M. Coddington. 
Corp. Theo, Dolson. 
Corp. Benjamin Hull, 
Corp. Adam W. Miller. 
Corp. Moses Crist. 



Corp. John W. Pitts. 
Corp- J. R. Conning. 
Ambrose S. Holbert. 
Jacob Cameron. 
John C. Hawley. 
Wm. W. Carpenter. 
Nathan M. Hallock. 
Henry W. Smith. 
Talmage Burhans. 
Corp. J. C. Vermylia. 



Corp. Abraham Denney. 
Corp. Alexander Jones. 
Harvey A. Brock. 
Albert W. Parker. 
Daniel Rigenbaugh. 
William Campbell. 
Garret H. Bennett. 
Geo, R. Fitzgerald. 
William Jackson. 
Charles Benjamin. 
Cornelius Hughes. 



Abram T. Drake. 
Amsey W. Quick. 
William Balmos. 
Floyd S. Goble. 
John C. Magee. 
Ira Gordon. 
Richard L. White. 
John M. Young. 
Eli Coddington. 
George Garrett. 
Frederic Rundle. 
George H. Langton. 



Jeremiah Dolson. 
Gilliam Bertholf. 
Benjamin Gray. 
Joseph Wood. 
Edward Royce. 
John Edwards. 
George B. Kinney. 
Wells Benjamin. 
John Gannin. 
James Pembleton. 
David Curr-ey. 



John N. Knapp. 
Nelson Foot. 
Wihiam Whan. 
Thomas Farley. 
James Flannigan. 
John Gordon. 
William Moore. 
Patrick Ryan. 
James A. Smith. 
Smith Birdsley. 
Charles Lozier. 



Albert E. Bunce. 
Morvalden Odell. 
John Tompkins. 
Nathan Edwards. 
Benjamin F. Flagg. 
James Ryan. 
James E. Daniels. 



Corp. G. W. Edwards, "A.' 
I. "Corp. Charles Ensign, •- G." 
Corp. J. P. Moulton, "C." 



John Rediker. 
Gouverneer M. Legg. 
James Crist. 
Milton Crist, 
Josiah Dawson. 
Geo ge Butters. 
Edward Hunter. 
Chester Judson. 
William Dawson. 
Jesse F. Camp. 
Jeremiah Crist. 
Wm. Whiteside. 
John E. Kidd. 
Daniel W. Baker. 
Jacob F. Jordan. 



James Sloat. 
Hezekiah Harris. 
Horace Wheeler. 
Solomon Can*. 
John Scott. 
William H. Shaw. 
Simeon Wheat. 
Charles Downing. 
George Nichols. 
A. W. Lomereaux. 
Arch. Freeman. 
Henry M. Howell. 



John Carroll. 
H. R. Mayette. 
Henry C. Baker. 
Patrick Cuneen. 
Michael Cullen. 
Samuel V. Tidd. 
Joseph Point. 
George H. Stephens. 
David S. Purdy. 
James H. Conklin. 



Selah Brock. 
Math. Sager. 
Daniel Giles. 
Gilbert Peet. 
Wm. H. Trainer. 
John Trainer. 
George E. Griffin. 
John M. Calyer. 
T homas Corbett. 
James Hoke. 
F. McMahon. 



1st. Sergt. J. D. Drake. 



Sergt. A. P. Francisco. 



2nd Lt. S. W. Hotchkiss. 



Sergt. E. M. B. Peck. 



1st Sergt. Eb. Holbert. 



1st Sergt. Chas. Stewart. 

Sergt. A, T. Vanderlyn. 

Sergt. Amos M. Eager. 

1st Sergt. W. H. Many. 
Sergt. G. L. Brewster. 
Sergt. Peter P. Hazen. 
Sergt. Thomas Taft. 

2nd Lt. J. A. Grier. 

1st. Sergt. W. H. Cox. 



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Sergt. Thomas W. Bradley. 



Sergt. Jas. A. Beakes. 



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1st. Lt. James Finnegan. 
Seegt. W. W. Eitch. 
Seegt. J. J. Crawford. 
Sekgt. W. W. Parsons. 



1st Seegt. Isaac Decker. 









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GETTYSBURG. 175 

Captain Silliman, who 3'et commanded our color company, 
stood where he could observe this advance much better than I 
could, and I will insert here an account he gives of it in a pub- 
lished article concerning the death of Major Cromwell. "At 
length the enemy appeared in heavy columns of battalion advan- 
cing on us from the opposite slope. As we held the position by 
a single line of battle unsupported, the enemy's superiority in 
numbers, as seen at a glance, seemed overwhelming. As they 
approached they deployed in four distinct lines of battle, and 
came resolutely on under a rapid fire from our batteries. All 
seemed lost but in the steady lines of the Third corps not a man 
flinched, and among them all, none were more ready for the 
fierce encounter than Major Cromwell," and let me add Captain 
Silliman, for — notwithstanding his faults as a commander of intel- 
ligent men — a braver officer than he showed himself to be on the 
battle-fields of Chancellorsville and Gettysburg, has seldom 
drawn a sword. 

When the enemy's advance line drew near the base of the 
hill we were on, it appeared to almost halt for a minute, and then 
started rapidly forward again, and with fierce yells began ascend- 
ing the slope ; and there was heard an opening crash of 
riflery all along our front, which was the death knell of hun- 
dreds ; yet on, on they came, but very slowly, only a few feet at 
a time. Now Cromwell hurries to Colonel Ellis, who stands 
behind the color company and asks him to order a charge ; but 
the Colonel shakes his head and tells the Major to go back to his 
place again. Now the enemy has been brought to a stand, but 
he is only a few rods away. Again Cromwell walks toward 
Ellis. This time he is accompanied by Adjutant Ramsdell. 
Once more he requests the Colonel to charge, and is again told to 
go back to the left of the regiment ; yet a moment later their 
horses are brought up and, against the remonstrances of Captain 
Silliman and several others, they mount. The Major's only reply 
is, " The men must see us to-da}'," and he rides slowly to and 
wheels his horse about in rear of the centre of the left wing; 



176 HISTORY OF THE 124TH NEW YORK VOLUNTEERS. 

where with drawn sword and eyes fixed on the Colonel he im- 
patiently awaits his superior's pleasure. 

Presently Ellis by a simple nod gives the desired permission ; 
at which Cromwell waves his sword twice above his head, makes 
a lunge forward, shouts the charge, and putting spurs to his horse, 
dashes forward through the lines. The men cease firing for a 
minute and with ready bayonets rush after him. Ellis sits still 
in his saddle and looks on as if in proud admiration of both his 
loved Major and gallant sons of Orange, until the regiment is 
fairly under way, and then rushes with them into the thickest 
of the fray 

The conflict at this point defies description. Roaring can- 
non, crashing riflery, screeching shots, bursting shells, hissing 
bullets, cheers, shouts, shrieks and groans were the notes of the 
song of death which greeted the grim reaper, as with mighty 
sweeps he leveled down the richest field of scarlet human grain 
ever garnered on this continent. 

The enemy's line, unable to withstand our fierce onset, broke 
and fled, and Cromwell — his noble face flushed with victory, and 
his extended right arm waving his flashing sabre — uttered a 
shout of triumph. But it had barely escaped his lips when the 
second line of the foe poured into us a terrible fire which seemed 
in an instant to bring down a full quarter of our number. 

Once more we hear our loved Cromwell's shout, and once 
again we see, amid the fire and smoke, his noble form and flash- 
ing blade ; but the next instant his brave heart is pierced by a 
rebel bullet, his right arm drops powerless, his lifeless body falls 
backward from his saddle, and loud above the din of battle we 
hear Ellis shout, " My God! My God, men! Your Major's 
down; save him ! save him." Again the onset of Orange Coun- 
ty's sons becomes irresistible, and the second line of the foe 
wavers and falls back ; but another and solid line takes its place, 
whose fresh fire falls with frightful effect on our now skeleton 
ranks. So terrible is it that two-thirds of the artillerymen in 
our rear are either killed or wounded, and the balance driven 



GETTYSBURG. 177 

from their guns, by the shells and bullets which pass over and 
through our line. 

Lieutenant Colonel Cummins, with the experience and eye 
of an old soldier, realizes that a skirmish line without reserves, 
be the men who compose it never so brave, must eventually be 
swept away by a continually renewed solid battle line, and un- 
willing the regiment should be disgraced by the loss of guns it is 
expected to protect, attempts to get them started to the rear, 
and while in the act is so badly injured by a shell — which strik- 
ing a gun-carriage hurls it against him — that he is carried from 
the field. But our brave Ellis yet remains, now seen in bold 
relief, now lost amid the clouds of powder smoke. A moment 
longer the central figure, he directs his regiment. Again the 
rebel line begins to waver and we see his proud form rise in 
his stirrups ; his long sharp sword is extended upward, a half 
uttered order escapes his lips, when suddenly his trusty blade 
falls point downward, his chin drops on his breast, and his body 
with a weave pitches forward, head foremost among the rocks ; 
at which his wounded beast rears and with a mad plunge dashes 
away, staggering blindly through the ranks of the foe, who is now 
giving ground again, firing wildly as he goes. But we are too 
weak to follow him, yet with desperate effort the Orange Blos- 
soms struggle forward and gather up such as they may of the 
wounded, and with them and the bodies of Ellis and Cromwell, 
we fall slowly and mournfully back to the main line, from which 
we never should have advanced — and there reform our shattered 
bleeding ranks, and prepare to receive as best we may the next 
onset of the foe. Three times we have beaten him back, but 
now we are exhausted. For forty minutes the brigades of Ward 
and De Trobriand, at first scarce three thousand strong and now 
reduced to but little more than half that number, have held their 
ground against Longstreet's entire corps. But what of his next 
assaults ? Where is the gallant Sykes with his " glorious old 
Fifth corps ? " One of our convalescents, David Dewitt, who 
arrived upon the field from hospital, without arms, just before 
Ellis fell, and has been busying himself carrying off the wounded, 

12 



178 HISTORY OF THE 124TH NEW YORK VOLUNTEERS. 

says, " A brigade with Maltese crosses, the regulars, I think, lie 
just over the hill there, boiling coffee." My God ! I hear some 
one reply, as the rebel battle line in front increases fire and 
shows signs of again advancing against us. 

General Sickles has been seriously wounded. Birney now 
commands our corps, Ward our division, Berdan our brigade, and 
I find myself, who twenty minutes before was fourth officer in 
rank, in command of what is left of our regiment. The battle 
has now become general, and is raging nearly all along the 
line. Three hundred cannon are rending the air and shaking 
the earth. From every knoll and hill-top, in front and rear, 
there come flashes of fire, and buffing clouds of smoke. 

Our immediate foes keep up a brisk fire but do not again 
attempt to ascend the hill in front of us. My ten little com- 
panies, now numbering but a trifle over a hundred, all told, are 
gathered together in little squads like picket posts along the 
front they are yet expected to hold ; but their deliberate aim is 
not without its effect on the solid Confederate battle line at the 
foot of the hill below them. 

Passing down the line, I notice that there is no commissioned 
officer in command of Company I, and ask, " Where is your 
plucky new Lieutenant?" and the answer comes, "You will find 
him lying down yonder with four or five of I, beside him." 
"What!" I answer, "Is he dead?" and am told that he fell 
fighting nobly at the head of his company Reaching Company 
K, I learn that Lieutenant Finnegan has been borne to the rear 
wounded in two places. Coming to G, which moved into line 
that morning with more men than any other company in the 
regiment, I see a corporal's guard in charge of a corporal, and 
learn that Captain Nicolls 1 dead body lies wedged in between 
two rocks at the farthest point of our advance. " Two of the 
boys tried to get him out," says one of the survivors, " but they 
both fell killed or wounded beside him. Lieutenant J. 0. Den- 
niston, also of that company, had early in the action received 
two wounds and been carried from the field never to return to 
duty with the regiment. 



GETTYSBURG. 179 

The slope in front was strewn with our dead, and not a few 
of our severely wounded lay beyond the reach of their unscathed 
comrades, bleeding, helpless, and some of them d_ying. One of 
this number who lay farthest away, among the rocks near the 
body of our truly noble and most esteemed Captain Nicoll, could 
be seen ever and anon, beneath the continually rising smoke of 
battle to raise his arm, and feebly wave a blood covered hand. 
It was James Scott, of Company B, one of the ten thousand 
chief heroes of that great battle. "When Cromwell dashed 
through the ranks to lead the charge," says one of his comrades, 
" Scotty was the first to spring forward after him, and when the 
Major fell it seemed to me Scotty changed to a wild beast. He 
had been wounded in the arm and his hand and face were cov- 
ered with blood, but he did not seem to know anything about it, 
and kept on fighting until a ball hit him in the breast, and went 
clear through and came out of his back. That must have para- 
lyzed him like, for his hands dropped and, as his gun struck the 
ground, he fell heavily forward upon it, as if he ha.l been killed 
instantly " But no, Corporal James Scott yet lived. At the time 
he received the wound in his breast, the foe were falling back, 
and before he recovered consciousness, a piece of shell had struck 
his left arm, near the shoulder, (the first wound he received was 
in the wrist of the same arm) another bullet had passed through 
his body — entering the left side, breaking two ribs and coining 
out of the right groin. And yet another piece of shell had struck 
him in the back, inflicting a most ugly wound and paralyzing 
every part of his body, except that right hand and arm which, as 
consciousness slowly returned, he was waving in token of victory. 

The lifeless remains of Ellis and Cromwell were now lying on 
a huge boulder but a few yards in our rear, and in plain sight 
of all those remaining in our battle line, who chanced to look 
that way- But the gallant boys fought on. If there were any 
cowards in our ranks when the battle began they were not there 
then. Every few moments a man would drop a rifle which had 
become clogged or so hot that he could not hold it steadily, and 
bidding those beside him be careful where they fired, rush forward 



180 HISTORY OF THE 124TH NEW YORK VOLUNTEERS. 

and pick up, in place of it, one that had fallen from the hands of 
a dead or wounded comrade. 

Presently the foes in our front slackened their fire, and turn- 
ing for a moment to view the bodies of our late leaders, I saw 
the brains protruding from a small round hole in Ellis' forehead, 
and discovered glistening on Cromwell's blood-stained breast a gold 
locket, which I knew contained the portrait of one who but a few 
moments before was his beloved young wife, but then alas! 
though she suspected it not — his widow. Calling Lieutenant 
Ramsdell to me, I directed him to detail bugler Ross, and such 
other unarmed men as he could find, take charge of the bodies, 
have them carried to the rear, and if by any means he could get 
them north and deliver them to their friends, to do so. And 
when he replied " I will do my best, Captain," I felt sure he would 
succeed. How he performed the difficult task will appear in 
due time. 

As I wheeled about toward the regiment, I heard some one 
ahead of me say, " they are advancing," and glancing to the left 
saw that the 40th New York was retiring before a heavy battle 
line, and that a column of the foe had already moved past their 
flank. The 99th Pennsylvania too was giving ground. The next 
instant an aid rode up, (Captain Cooney, I think it was) with 
orders to fall back without a moment's delay. Repeating it to the 
regiment and directing Captain Silliman to see it properly executed, 
I hastened to the woods at our right for the purpose of withdraw- 
ing several men of Company A, whom I had, before the action 
began, personally posted at intervals behind the trees and rocks 
along the otherwise unoccupied space between our regiment and 
the 86th. As soon as I could get these men together, I started 
with them after the regiment which was now some distance away, 
but the enemy had in the mean time advanced to the top of the 
ledge our regiment had occupied, and it wau by mere chance 
that we escaped capture. 

That division of the Fifth corps which had been sent to rein- 
force us, but had stopped on the way to boil their coffee, was 
now advancing, but it would have to fight hard and desperately 



GETTYSBURG. 181 

if it regained the ground which with its assistance we might have 
held. When I reached the regiment, General Ward had halted and 
was haranguing it — he was saying that he expected almost impos- 
sible things of his old troops, but that such a heroic, noble resist- 
ance as we had made, was beyond any thing he had ever dared 
to hope for, even from them. Such praise, at such a time, was 
sweet indeed, but alas ! it did not bring back to us our trusted 
leaders, or resuscitate our most valiant comrades, who lay dead 
upon the bloody hillside and along the rocky ledge we had just left. 

The active part that the 124th was to play in this great three 
days' battle, had now been performed. Moving to a piece of 
woods about a mile in the rear of the Union battle line, we pre- 
pared, and with saddened hearts and gloomy thoughts, quietly 
partook of our evening meal. 

That Sickles erred in advancing beyond the position assigned 
him, no student of the art of war denies. That his entire corps 
fought most nobly; and that Ward's brigade was left unsup- 
ported and held its own for over an hour in a most deadly con- 
test with a force of the enemy which outnumbered it four to one 
— until its line of battle was reduced to a mere skeleton and 
then with the exception of one regiment was not driven, but 
withdrawn because there was no force at hand to prevent the 
enemy's moving past its flank, must be acknowledged by all 
honest writers who are acquainted with the facts. 

General Lee, in his official report of the battle, referring to 
the second day's contest, says : " In front of General Longstreet 
the enemy held a position, from which if he could be driven it 
was thought that our army could be used to advantage in assail- 
ing the more elevated ground beyond. After a severe 
struggle Longstreet succeeded in getting possession of and hold- 
ing the desired ground." 

General Meade in his official report of Gettysburg, writes : 
"Notwithstanding the stubborn resistance of the Third corps, 
under Major-General Birney, (Major-General Sickles having been 
wounded early in the action) superiority in numbers of corps of 
the enemy enabling him to outflank its advanced position, Gen- 



182 HISTORY OF THE 124TH NEW YORK VOLUNTEERS. 

eral Birney was counseled to Ml back and reform behind the 
line originally desired to be held." 

The Third corps hospital, to which nearly all our wounded 
were taken, had been established in a grove about half a mile to 
the left and rear of where we were then tying. Just after dark, 
I decided to walk over to it, and try and find the poor fellows 
and learn how they were being cared for. When about half way 
there I fell in with a party of stretcher-bearers with loaded 
stretchers. They were moving in single file along what appeared 
to be a beaten path, and said they belonged to the Third corps. 
There were but two men to each stretcher; and they all seemed 
nearly worn out and were trudging along very slowly with their 
heavy loads toward the hospital. As I hurried by one after 
another I stooped and peered into the faces of the wounded, to 
see if there were any of the 124th among them, but it was too 
dark for me to determine positively in that way, and so T asked 
each one to what regiment he belonged. The first was a mem- 
ber of the Third Michigan ; the second, was a sergeant of the 
63d New York ; the third was a Pennsylvanian ; the fourth 
made no answer to my inquiry, though his eyes were wide open 
and I was sure he was looking at me. Instinctively I placed my 
hand on his forehead, expecting to find it hot and dry, but instead 
it was cold and clammy — he was dead. 

The scene at the hospital was one of the most horrid imagin- 
able. During the afternoon and evening nearly three thousand 
wounded men had been brought there, and others were continually 
arriving. The ground of the entire grove, which was several acres 
in extent, seemed to be literally covered with them ; and such 
noises filled the air as I had never heard before and trust may 
never reach my ears again. The wounded of our brigade had 
been among the first to arrive, and were lying, I had no doubt, 
near the centre of the grove. The thick foliage caused dark 
shadows to fall upon those acres of mangled bleeding human 
forms. Away down through the trees flickering lights could be 
seen, the reflections of which fell with ghastly effect upon the 
corps of surgeons who with coats off, and sleeves rolled up, were 



GETTYSBURG. 183 

gathered at, or moving rapidly to and fro about the amputating 
tables. After a momejit's hesitation at the edge of the woods 
I resolved to attempt to pick my way through toward where I 
hoped to find the objects of my search, but as I moved on 
among those, for the most part, prostrate men, their groans, 
and piteous appeals for help, appalled me. Many of them were 
already dead. Several in a state of delirium were shouting as 
if upon the battle-field, and others, believing I was a surgeon, 
besought me to stop just a moment and bind up the wounds, from 
which their life-blood was ebbing. Presently a man I was 
about stepping over, sprang to his feet, shook in front of me a 
bloody bandage he had just torn from a dreadful gaping wound 
in his breast, and uttered a hideous laughing shriek which sent 
the hot blood spirting from his wound into my very face ; at 
which he threw up his arms as if a bullet had just entered 
his heart, and fell heavily backward across a poor mangled 
fellow wmose piercing wails of anguish were heart-rending beyond 
description. I could endure no more, and wheeling about, 
hurried over the wounded and dying to the open field again ; and 
returned to the regiment, glad that I had informed no one of my 
intended errand of mercy, for I was heartily ashamed of the 
weakness which had caused me to turn back. 

Several times during the night we were awakened by the 
thunder of artillery and crash of small arms, and at four o'clock, 
on the morning of the 3d, the battle opened again with consid- 
erable fuiy and raged without cessation until about nine a. m. 
Then an ominous silence prevailed for several hours, during which 
batteries and columns of troops were hurried hither and thither 
over the field, and toward the front, plainly indicating that the 
lines were being strengthened in anticipation of another deter- 
mined onset of the now most desperate foe. 

About two o'clock the enemy opened a most furious can- 
nonade with a hundred and twenty guns. The Union batteries 
soon began to reply, and for over two hours the earth seemed 
to tremble beneath us, and the air was filled with fire and 
smoke and iron. The enemy's infantry kept concealed, and our 



184 HISTOEY OP THE 124TH NEW YORK VOLUNTEERS. 

troops with loaded weapons hugged the ground, impatiently 
awaiting the opening of the less noisy but more deadly contest 
with small arms which they all knew was sure to follow. At 
four o'clock it came, grand, desperate, terrible. But the 124th 
were not called to participate in it, and I will not therefore 
attempt to describe it. At five o'clock it was over. Picket's 
division, the flower of the Confederate army, had been annihi- 
lated, and Lee and his cohorts defeated — fairly and squarely 
whipped in open fight — not overpowered by a force superior in 
numbers, for the slight difference that existed in that particular 
was in favor of the Confederates. 

For once the army of Northern Virginia had met its old 
adversary even handed and received a crushing defeat. For once 
the army of the Potomac had gained a great and undisputed 
victory The latest accounts, carefully drawn from the most 
reliable authorities on both sides, give 72,000 Unionists, and 
76,000 Confederates, as the full number of armed men actually on 
the field. Of this number over forty thousand were either killed 
or wounded. 

During the quiet hours which preceded this decisive and 
final struggle, my thoughts very naturally reverted to wounded 
comrades at the hospital; and about noon I decided to mount 
Colonel Cummins' " Old Bay," * ride hurriedly over to the 
hospital and make another attempt to see them. As I dis- 
mounted and tied my horse to a shrub at the edge of the grove, 
I noticed a short distance beyond me a company of about fifty 
men digging graves, and was informed by one of them that they 
had been busy since morning burying men who had died of their 
wounds, during the night and morning. 

On penetrating the woods I passed by several who were even 
then in the agonies of death, and saw two groups of men moving 
out with dead bodies ; but the chaos of the previous evening had 
disappeared and comparative order reigned. Nearly all had re- 

* Early that morning Colonel Cummins had turned over to me his horse for my 
personal use until he should be able to return to the regiment, on condition that I 
should not make a fool of myself by riding him or any other horse in any action 
during his absence. 



GETTYSBUKG. 185 

ceived attention, but the majority of the surgeons had not yet quit 
their posts to seek the rest their pale, haggard faces told they 
were much in need of. I did not see our surgeon, Dr. Thomp- 
son,* but was informed by one of our wounded men who lay near 
the amputating tables — and who said that for eighteen hours he 
had listened to the horrid noise made by saws gnawing away 
human bones — that he and Chaplain Bradner had worked faith- 
fully all night, doing what they could for the Orange Blossoms. 

At four o'clock p. m. the regiment was ordered forward, and 
we spent the remainder of the day and following night, posted 
as a reserve about ten rods in rear of the main line. Hundreds 
of the wounded yet remained on a bloody strip of disputed 
ground between the picket lines, and all night we could hear the 
distant piteous cry of " water ! water! water !" 

Early on the morning of the 4th, it was discovered that the 
enemy's videttes had disappeared from our front, but Union skir- 
mishers who were forthwith advanced, soon came upon their 
pickets, posted behind a line of rifle pits. 

About noon I walked out a short distance beyond the Union 
battle line over that harvest field of death. All the wounded 
who had fallen behind where our picket line then was, had been 
carried to the rear. But scores of blackened, distorted human 
faces lay in front of me, turn which way I would. The bodies of 
many of these had been torn most frightfully by pieces of shell. 
Interspersed among them lay the bloated carcasses of dead horses. 
The ground in all directions was strewn with the broken engines 
and paraphernalia of war, and here and there upon the grass 
could be seen dark crimson spots which told of pools of blood. 

As night came on a rain storm set in, and early on the morn- 
ing of the 5th, I was ordered to send out a squad of men in 
charge of a commissioned officer to assist in burying the dead. 
About noon we moved a short distance to a piece of wood, where 
we pitched what tents we had and remained until the afternoon 
of the 6 th. 

* Dr. Montfort spent the night on the field, near the front, ministering to such of 
the wounded as bad not yet been carried to the hospitals. 



186 HISTORY OF THE 12 4TH NEW YORK VOLUNTEERS. 



LIST OF KILLED AND WOUNDED, OF THE 124TH, AT THE 
BATTLE OF GETTYSBURG. 



Colonel A. Van Horne Ellis 

LlEUT.-OoLOXEL F M. CUMMIN'S. 

Major James Cromwell. 



Killed. 
Wounded. 
. Killed. 



COMPANY A. 

Corp. Jacob Lent.. .. .-Killed. 

Charles H. Valentine.. Wounded. 

Isaac L. Conklin 

Michael Hager 

Wesley Morgan. 

COMPANY B. 

William Lamereaux. .Killed. 

Harrison Storms 

E. J. Holland 

Corp. James Scott. .. Wounded. 

B. M. Carpenter. 

John Glanz 

Wesley Storms 

J. J. Messenger 

COMPANY C. 

Benjamin F. Flagg. .Killed. 

Sergt. Thomas Taft Wounded. 

Sergt. Peter P. Hazen . 
Frederick Lamereaux. . 
Nathan Edwards. 
James Ryan 



COMPANY D. 

James Pembleton 

John W Leeper 

Corp. Gideon H. Pelton. 

Corp. Ezra Hyatt 

John C. Degraw 

George B.Kinney 

David Currey 

Thomas S. Storms 

Thomas M. Hyatt 

John Gannin. 

COMPANY E. 

James B. Moore. 

Hezekiah Harris. . 

John Scott. 

Matthew W Wood 



.Killed. 
Wounded. 



. Killed. 



Wounded. 



COMPANY F. 

1st Sergt. John I). Drake.. . 

Corp. 0. U. Kuapp 

A. W Quick. 

I. G. Gillson. 

Corp. James Comey . . 

Corp. James H. Taylor 

George Garrett 

William C, Van Sickle. 

G. H. Langton 

Levi Cartright. 
Floyd S. Goble 

Ira Gordon . 

F Bundle.. .. 

COMPANY G. 



. Killed. 



Wounded. 



.Killed. 



Captain Isaac Nicoll. 

Wm. D. Dawkins. .. 

William Campbell. 

Thomas Corbett. 

Walter Barton 

James Roke. . 

1st Lt. James O. Denntston. . Wounded. 

Sergt. Isaac Decker. . 

Charles Benjamin " 

Garrett H. Bennett " 

Cornelius Hughs... .. " 

Gilbert Peet.. ,. 

Selah Brock.. " 



COMPANY H. 

William H. Cox. 

James E. Homan 

Sergt. Thomas Bradley 
Corp. N. B. Kimbark 
Wm. S. M. Hatch. . . . 
Charles W Tindall. 
Thomas O'Connell. 

Jesse F Camp 

John E. Kidd. 



. Killed. 
Wounded. 



GETTYSBURG 



187 



COMPANY I. 

2d Lieut. Milker Brown 

Charles Edwards., 

James Partington 

William Whan. . 
William Moore. 

C. S. Allen 

Skrgt. Amos M. Eager.. 
Sehgt. A. T. Vanderlyn 
Coup. Samuel Chalmers. 
Corp. Samuel McQuaid. 

Nathaniel Jackson 

John T. Laroc. 

John Gordon . 



. Killed. 



Wounded. 



COMPANY K. 

Corp. Isaac Decker. ...... .Killed. 

G. H. Stephens " 

A. S. Holbert 

John Carroll " 

1st Lieut. James Finnegan. . Wounded. 

Sergt. W T. Ogden 

Henry W. Smith .... " 

Left General Guide. 
Corp. H. G. Herrick, of D. Wounded. 



Killed 
Wounded. . 



34 

57 



That portion of Sickles' most advanced position, from which the 
124th was withdrawn on the afternoon of the 2d, was not again 
occupied by the Union forces during the battle ; and a consider- 
able number of our severely wounded remained for several days 
in the hands of the enemy, and three or four of them did not 
again re-enter the Federal lines until after they had luxuriated for 
a season in Southern prison?. Corporal James Scott, to whom 
particular reference has already been made, gives the following 
account of what he terms his " Three days with the Johnnies : " 

" When our regiment left the hill a Confederate battle line 
advanced over me and took possession of it, and I lay there 
three days and three nights in a partly paralyzed state. The 
rays of the sun at times were terrible. When the Confederate 
ambulances came up that night for the wounded, a general — 
whose headquarters were near where I was lying — was walking 
over the field ; and when two of the stretcher bearers came to 
me, and were about to pick me up, he told them to leave me 
there as I wasn't worth bothering with. About midnight I 
heard some one near by talking in earnest tones about the results 
of the day, and presently saw two Confederate officers walking 
arm and arm. I must have made some sort of a noise; for 
one of them remarked ' There is another poor fellow,' and 
came to me, and asked where I was hurt and if I wanted a drink. 
Then lie passed his canteen to me with the question, ' To what 
regiment do you belong? ' But before my reply was half uttered 



188 HISTORY OF THE 124TH NEW YORK VOLUNTEERS. 

he jerked it away, called me a D Yankee s , and 

made as if he would kick me ; at which his comrade, shouting, 
< Oh don't ! ' sprang forward and drew, or rather pushed him 
away. With that exception the Johnnies were very kind. 
Several times they took my canteen and crawled out between the 
lines and filled it with water for me. They gave me food, too, 
but I couldn't eat it. Some of them expressed their sympathy, 
said I could not live long, and advised me to make my peace 
with God. On the afternoon of the second day a squad of sol- 
diers gathered up the dead bodies of eighteen men of our regi- 
ment and lay them on a level strip of ground a few yards below 
me. Then they came and, after taking most of the clothing and 
all the shoes off of them, arranged the bodies in two rows with 
the feet together, and left them so. That evening I heard a 
staff officer deliver to the General I have spoken of, orders from 
General Longstreet to fall back promptly but not to run. On 
the afternoon of the third day some of the 14th Regulars came 
with an ambulance and took me to their regimental hospital." 

Statement of Corp. N B. Kimbark, of Company H — " I was 
severely wounded in the breast at Gettysburg just after Colonel 
Ellis fell. I was unconscious for a short time. When I recovered 
my senses the Rebels were advancing over me. I. remained 
where I fell until the next morning, when one of their officers 
came along and ordered me to go to the rear. I managed to 
crawl a rod or so alone. Then he sent a man to assist me. But 
the fellow said I would die any way, and soon left me. Then I 
crawled to a fence and lay down again b}' it. There was a 
Rebel picket post near me, and one of the men came and gave 
me a swallow of water from his canteen. Presently another one 
of them came along with a four gallon earthen jar on his head, 
which he had just filled at some spring, and stopped and gave 
me a good drink ; after which I fell asleep. When I awoke 
their pickets had gone ; but before long a Rebel battle line 
advanced past me, and their officers ordered me to crawl farther 
to the rear. Presently a burial party with picks and shovels 
came along and I asked them where their hospital was. They 



GETTYSBURG. 1 89 

said it was a short distance beyond in a piece of woods — that 
some of them were going there presently after water, and would 
take me with them, which they did. It was not a regular hospital 
— only a sort of stopping place for the wounded. A rebel doctor 
who was there came to me and inquired where I was wounded. 
And when I told him I was shot through the lungs, he replied, 
' oh, that will not kill you,' gave me some morphine on the blade 
of a pocket knife, and said there would soon be an ambulance 
there to take me to the hospital. Just then shells from our 
batteries began to fall among us, and their ambulance teams 
were driven up on a run, and the stretcher bearers rushed in 
among us and carried off all the rebel wounded, but left me 
sitting there alone, leaning against a tree. There was a small 
log barn close by, and I crept into it. There were two rebels 
in there. One of them was very badly wounded and the other 
one (not wounded) was taking care of him. They did not speak 
to me, and I lay down on some straw and soon fell asleep. 
When T awoke there was an ambulance at the door taking in the 
wounded rebel. I asked them to take me too, but they did not 
let on that they heard me, and drove off, and I was alone again. 
Presently I saw some Confederates pass by carrying a wounded 
officer, and I got on my feet and tried to follow them, for I 
thought they must be going to some hospital. I managed to 
get several rods, then my strength failed me and I had to sink 
down, and they were soon out of sight. But there was a small 
stream close by and some men who_ came to get water told me 
there was a house a short distance ahead with a lot of wounded 
' Yanks ' in it. After a while 1 got to this house and remained' 
there two nights. There were eighteen wounded Union soldiers 
there, but none of them belonged to our regiment. The people 
who had lived in this house must have fled in great haste, for 
nothing had been removed. Their clothing hung all around, 
and the beds were all made and ready for use. The last day I 
was there I lay down on one of the beds early in the afternoon 
and went to sleep. I was awakened by the noise of artillery 
which was so close by that it shook the windows and I looked 



190 HISTORY 0E THE 124TH NEW YORK VOLUNTEERS. 

out and saw a line of our skirmishers advancing, and one of our 
batteries shelling the woods ahead of them. Not one of the 
eighteen men who were with me were able to walk, and I sup- 
pose that is the reason why the rebels had left us.- We tried 
to raise a cheer when we saw the boys in blue advancing toward 
us, but it was a very weak affair. In a few moments a Union 
field officer and a surgeon came in, and before long our ambu- 
lances were there and took us all back to our own hospitals." 

Sergeant Thomas Taft of Company C, (subsequently Captain 
of that gallant company) gives, in a letter written to his father, 
Daniel Taft, Esq., of Cornwall, about two months after the battle, 
the following interesting account of his first trip to Richmond, a 
short sojourn within the limits of the Confederacy, and his return 
to the Union lines. 

" In the fight at Gettysburg on the 2d of July, our regi- 
ment was formed in line on the top of a stony hill — a very good 
position. When first at lacked by the rebels we drove them 
nearly half-way down the hill, when we were met by their second 
line. Just before our regiment fell back I received a blow 

on the left hip which knocked me down. I do not know whether 
it was a spent ball or a piece of shell ; at any rate it bruised me 
severely Before I could get on my feet again a musket ball 
passed through my right arm, between the elbow and shoulder. 
This wound, together with the bruise on my hip, rendered me, 
for the time being, almost helpless. The enemy's battle line was 
now but a few feet from me ; I could neither fight nor run, and 
was consequently obliged lo surrender. 

" Several others belonging to our brigade were captured about 
the same time. We were all forthwith taken to the rear about 
half a mile. There were many wounded rebels there, and 
others were continually being brought in. We remained at that 
point an hour or two, during which time I had my arm dressed by 
a young man belonging to the 3d Maine, who happened to 
have some bandages with him. I saw several rebel surgeons, 
but they paid no more attention to our wounded — a number of 
whom lay near me — than if we had been so many dead dogs. 



GETTYSBURG. 191 

Just before dark the unwounded Union prisoners, together with 
fill of the wounded who were able to stand alone, were placed in 
a large field, around which a strong guard was posted. We 
remained in this field until the evening of the 3d, when we were 
marched to the outskirts of the village (Gettysburg) where we 
were kept until the 4th, when we were started on what proved to 
be a forced march for Staunton, Augusta county, Va. 

" On the afternoon of the 5th, we passed through Hagerstown, 
and about two miles beyond moved over ground which a few 
hours before had been the scene of a bloody engagement between 
Stewart's command and a force of Union cavalry under Kilpat- 
rick. A considerable number of dead horses, and not a few 
Union soldiers, were lying on the ground just where they had 
fallen. The bodies of the officers, and of nearly all the private 
soldiers, had been stripped of their clothing and left unburied. 
That night we reached Williamsport on the Potomac. Williams- 
port is forty miles from Gettysburg, and during that long march 
all they gave us to eat was one pint of flour, and half a pound of 
fresh meat, with a little salt. We mixed the flour on pieces of 
barrel heads and staves, and baked it the best we could on flat 
stones which we heated by building fires about them. A pon- 
toon bridge of theirs, which a few days before our arrival stretched 
across the river near that point, had been destroyed by Union 
cavalry, and all they had left to get us over with was an old 
scow-built ferry-boat, into which they could crowd but sixty men 
at a time. There were nearly three thousand of us, and it took 
tllem all the next day, and nearly all the following night >to ferry 
us over. 

" On the 8th we resumed our march — moved fifteen miles ; 
passing on our way through Martinsburg, which is without 
exception, the most patriotic place I ever saw. Philadelphia 
is not to be compared with it. The people told us to keep up 
our courage for the stars and stripes were coming — and not far 
in the rear. I was surprised to hear this from people living in 
Virginia. There was a whole brigade of rebels encamped in 
and around the town at the time, and by showing us sympathy 



192 HISTORY OF THE 124TH NEW YORK VOLUNTEERS. 

they were not only endangering their property but their very 
lives. The ladies had buttered large baskets of bread, and stood 
on the sidewalks ready to distribute it to us as we passed. 

" Before we reached the town the infantry guard, which 
encircled us, was ordered to bayonet the very first man who 
stepped one foot away from the ranks to receive anything from a 
citizen; and the men of the cavalry guard 'which formed the 
second and outer line about us was directed to cut the head off 
of any person who attempted to pass us anything to eat ! And 
yet, in three instances, I saw young ladies walk right out be- 
tween the horses, under the drawn sabres of the cavalrymen, 
and give our boys bread. The ruffians would have shot one of 
us on the slightest provocation, but innate gallantry forbid doing 
violence to a woman. After we crossed the river it was three 
days before they gave us anything to eat again. The first day 
after, as I have already stated, we marched fifteen miles ; the 
.second day we moved nineteen miles and were halted at Winches- 
ter, where we remained twenty-four hours longer — and all this 
Lime without a morsel of food. Then they issued to us two days' 
rations (which consisted, all told, of one quart of flour and half a 
pound of fresh beef) and we were started forward again toward 
Staunton, which was yet ninety-two miles away, but at the end 
of five days we were there, that is, all of our number who had 
not fallen dead by the wayside. About two miles south of the 
town we were marched in single file up to a pair of bars, where 
two officers searched us surrounded by a strong guard, and took 
our knives, tents, rubber blankets and even canteens ; and then 
turned us into a field like a lot of cattle. This field was about 
two acres in extent. There was but one tree in it, and that was 
the only shelter we had from sun or rain. At times the rays of 
the sun were terrible. For five consecutive days it rained in 
the afternoon, and each time I was wet to the skin, and had to 
remain so until the sun came out the following mornings and 
dried my clothes. The days were hot but the night air was 
damp and cold. Not more than one man in twenty had a blanket, 
and frequently the majority of us would walk about all night 



GETTYSBURG. 193 

over our two acre lot, jostling against each other trying to keep 
our teeth from chattering and our bodies from shivering. Our 
daily and unvaried rations, while we remained in this prison pen, 
consisted of a little salt, one pint of flour, and a piece of bacon 
about one and a half inches square, which was always covered 
with vermin." 

" On the 4th of August they searched us again, took away all 
the greenbacks they could find about us, and then shipped us to 
Richmond on a train of dirt cars. We arrived at the Confede- 
rate capital on the morning of the 5th, and were marched through 
the city to the tobacco-warehouses, in which we were stowed 
away — about three hundred on a floor. The company of three 
hundred to which I was attached, occupied one large room, or 
floor, with four small windows in it. As soon as we entered it, 
we were kindly informed by the guards that the first man's head 
that appeared outside, or even in, one of these windows, would 
certainly have a bullet put through it. 

" After remaining in the ware-houses two days and a night, 
we were taken to Belle Isle, which is about one mile from the 
city There they had a slight earthwork thrown up, which 
enclosed about one and a half acres of ground. In this small 
space they crowded four thousand prisoners. About three 
thousand of these had tents. The remaining thousand — to which 
class of unfortunates I belonged — slept on such narrow strips of 
ground as they could find between the tents. Our rations here 
differed some from what they had been at Staunton. Bread, 
soup, and meat, now made up our bill of fare; but the quantity 
was so small, and the quality was so poor, that we were continu- 
ally half famished. I often saw men pick bones from the dirt 
and filth, and pound them up with stones that they might suck 
the nutriment from them. It was no uncommon thing to see two 
men staggering along holding between them a comrade who could 
yet use his feet, but was too weak to stand alone. Many of our 
number died here. 

" On the 28th of August the majority of the survivors were 
taken back to Richmond and placed in the tobacco-warehouses 



194 HISTORY OF THE 124TH NEW YORK VOLUNTEERS. 

again. But on the morning of the 29th we were put on a train 
of cars, and about noon found ourselves at City Point. The 
transport New York lay at the wharf, and when we saw the stars 
and stripes floating from her mast-head, there went up a shout 
which came from the bottom of our thankful hearts ; and if it 
was not loud and strong it was only because we had not the 
strength to make it so. 

" As soon as we were taken on board the transport, half a 
loaf of bread, and one of Uncle Sam's rations of boiled pork was 
issued to us, and oh, what a feast we had ! Unfortunately a large 
number, instead of eating a little at a time, devoured the whole 
almost the very minute they received it, and consequently, for a 
time, suffered more from the effects of over-eating, than they had 
before endured for lack of food. At dusk that evening, the 
New York was made fast to the steamer wharf at Fortress Mon- 
roe, but at 9 o'clock we were under way again. At 7 o'clock 
the next morning we were landed at Annapolis. Those who were 
able to walk were conducted to College Green barracks, where 
we were furnished with new suits of clothes, and plenty of whole- 
some food. On Thursday, September 3d, all the New York 
troops were taken out to the new Parol Camp and placed under 
the command of Captain Murray of our regiment, who was 
wounded and captured at Chancellorsville, May 3d. I am glad 
that he has been placed over us, for lie is a pleasant and good 
officer." 



FOLLOWING LEE BACK TO THE RAPPAHANNOCK. J95 



CHAPTER XL 

Following Lee back to the Rappahannock. — Wapping Heights. 

THE retreat of the shattered, defeated, and almost disheart- 
ened veteran army of Northern Virginia, after the despe- 
rate three days' battle of Gettysburg, was begun as soon as the 
dark shades of the night of the 4th of July settled down on the 
bloody field, and kindly concealed their movements from the 
advanced lookouts of their victorious foes. Early on the morn- 
ing of the 5th, Sedgwick's corps (the 6th) moved rapidly across 
the battle-field, down the Fairfield road, and a considerable body 
of cavalry cantered off on the Chambersburg pike, in pursuit. 
During the forenoon, detached companies of men moved hither 
and thither along our front, gathering up small arms, thousands 
of which were yet lying scattered over what had, previous to 
that time, been regarded as disputed ground ; and burial parties 
were sent to scour the field in all directions, and inter every 
human form they could find, whether dressed in blue, or in grey 
and butternut. 

On the 6th, all those who were deemed unfit for active and 
arduous duty, were sent to the field hospitals ; and during the day 
the bulk of the army moved off, taking the roads which lead 
toward Emmettsburg. Our corps, however, remained on the field. 
A storm was brewing, and when evening approached, all who 
had tents put them up, dug trenches about and crowded under 
them, intent on a good rest and sound sleep ere they started off 
on, what all believed was to be a long and rapid march. About 
two hours after midnight, I was awakened to receive, read, and 
sign an order. It w r as from Division Headquarters, had been 
countersigned by our brigade adjutant-general, and read as fol- 
lows : " You will cause your command to be aroused at once, see 



196 HISTORY OF THE 124TII NEW YORK VOLUNTEERS. 

that they prepare and eat their breakfast without delay, and have, 
everything made ready for moving at a moment's notice." 

Before we had finished eating our breakfast and rolling our 
tents, the storm was upon us. We now had with us but 150 
men with muskets, and nine commissioned officers, all told. Cap- 
tains Silliman and Crist, with a considerable number of our rank 
and file who had participated in the battle, had been sent to the 
corps hospital where Surgeon Thompson, Chaplain Bradner, and 
several able-bodied enlisted men were ordered to remain and care 
for the wounded and sick. At daybreak we were under way, 
moved in a southerly direction, passed through Emmettsburg, and 
notwithstanding the severity of the storm and the continually 
deepening mud, did not bivouac for the night until we had 
reached Mechanicstown, which is distant not less than twenty 
miles from our starting point east of Gettysburg. 

At half past five o'clock the next morning (8th) we resumed 
our onward march, and did not halt for over ten minutes at 
a time until we had traveled twenty-three miles — passed through 
and were a two hours' march south of Frederick. 

The storm was abating somewhat, yet rain had continued 
to fall heavily at intervals throughout the day Some portion 
of the road over which we marched was Macadamized and 
covered only with a slight coating of thin mud and shallow 
pools of slush ; but in other places the mud was deep, and several 
of my men who had lost one of their shoes " away down under 
ground " and thrown away the other, kept their pants rolled above 
their knees and declared they would " wade it through bare-footed, 
sink or swim." Late in the afternoon, just before we reached 
Frederick, one of our brigade staff officers rode down the column, 
saving to the commander of each regiment in a most serious tone 
of voice, " The colonel commanding directs that you see to it 
that your regiment appears to good advantage when we pass 
through the village." This staff officer also informed me that "a 
delegation from the g alius 7th New York Yankee-greyback 
Militia, with Uled shirts and silk umbrellas were drawn up behind 
a rail fence along the road a short distance ahead, waiting to pay 



FOLLOWING LEE BACK TO THE RAPPAHANNOCK. 197 

their respects to some of their former comrades now in the 
124th." But before we had reached the spot the majority of 
them had returned to their quarters ; and when some one pointed 
to us and said, that is the 124th, the few who remained no sooner 
set eyes on us than they too fled, swearing, I presume, that 
they never knew one of us. 

Ten days before we had marched through that village with 
clothes brushed, banners flying, and polished arms reflecting the 
rays of the sun ; intent on keeping between the invading victori- 
ous and most mighty army the Confederacy ever put in the field, 
and our threatened capitol, which we were resolved to defend to 
the last extremity Since then we had met that grand southern 
army even handed, and defeated it in the most ably managed, 
desperate, and deadly battle ever fought on American soil ; and 
were now pursuing its depleted legions in their inglorious flight 
back to the forests of Virginia. 

We had been forced to go down and fight a battle on free 
soil, and were returning victors. But I do think, without 
exaggeration, when we that day retraced our steps through Fred- 
erick City we were the most un soldierly, sorry looking victori- 
ous Veteran Army it has been the lot of any human being of 
this century to look upon. For two days we had been bespat- 
tering each other with mud and slush, and soaked with rain 
which was then falling in torrents. Our guns and swords were 
covered with rust ; our pockets were filled with dirt ; muddy 
water oozed from the toes of the footmen's government shoes at 
every step, ran out of the tops of the horsemans boots and 
dropped from the ends of the fingers noses and chins of all. 

On the 9th we changed direction to the west, moved down 
the Hagerstown road, over the Catocton mountain, through Mid- 
dletown and on, up, and about half way over South mountain. 
This day's march was decidedly severe, though the distance 
traveled was but twelve miles. On the 10th we made another 
twelve miles, halting for several hours at Keedeysville and 
bivouacking in the evening at Millpoint. On the morning of the 
11th we moved forward about one mile and rested until 4 p, m., 



198 HISTORY OF THE 124TH NEW YORK VOLUNTEERS. 

when with loaded pieces we advanced about two miles, passing 
by Roxbury Mills ; and when night came en, rested on our arms 
in line of battle with the assurance from our superiors that a heavy 
force of the enemy were just ahead of us, though notwithstand- 
ing our sharp lookout through the clay we had failed to get sight 
of one of them. Here Lieutenant Ramsdell rejoined the regiment, 
informed us that after much tribulation he had succeeded in 
delivering the bodies of our lamented colonel and major to their 
friends, and was directed to resume the duties of adjutant. The 
following is his report of this most difficult undertaking. 

Camp near Williamsport, Mb. July 11, 1863. 

Capt. 0. H. Weygant., Com'clg. VZttli N. Y Vol. Infantry. 

Sir : — I have the honor to report that after receiving your orders and 
escort, I succeeded in taking the bodies of our late colonel and major to 
their friends. The details of the journey I will give as concisely as 
possible. 

The detail of eight men, private Fisher of Company "0," and "Sam," 
the colonel's servant, constituted my party which left the vicinity of Gettys- 
burg, at about 10-J- o'clock a.m. of the 3d of July, and marched about 
three miles to the farm-house of one Max Lydig, who had a wagon with a 
covered tilt suitable for our purpose. After trying to hire or buy the 
vehicle and a pair of horses without success, I ordered the men to put the 
horses to the wagon, placed the bodies carefully inside, stuffing straw 
between the stretchers to prevent any shifting, gave Lydig the order and 
emphasized it with the sharp end of my saber, upon which he took the 
driver's seat with alacrity. Posting Fisher by his side to prevent any 
unpleasantness, we reached the main road about a mile southeasterly. 
Here, sending the escort back to the regiment, we took the turnpike for 
Westminster, stopping only a few minutes at a time to breathe the heavy 
draft horses who were unaccustomed to journeys of this sort. The sun 
was so hot, and shade being scanty, I covered the bodies and wagon tilt 
with foliage. The provost guard stopped us occasionally, but gave us no 
trouble on my showing my orders. 

We arrived in Westminster about dark, where Quarter-master Travis 
found a native carpenter who made two rough boxes, in which we packed 
the bodies in ice, after dressing them as well as we were able. 

I had little difficulty in procuring transportation to Baltimore, as 
Colonel Berdan, commanding our brigade, had instructed me on this 
point. " Sam," I sent with my horse and his own to Baltimore, by road. 
I left Westminster about five o'clock on the morning of July 4th, and 



FOLLOWING LEE BACK TO THE RAPPAHANNOCK. 199 

now my difficulties commenced. The confusion among the railway officials 
resulting from scare and contradictory orders, caused us to be switched and 
reswitched ; twice was my charge taken off the car by the train men, and 
as often replaced — the wounded who were being sent to the hospital on the 
open platform cars in the scorching rays of a July sun, assisting me. At 
last an Irish Major whose left arm was broken at the elbow by a musket 
ball, seating himself on the box containing Colonel Ellis, swore he would 
brain the very next man who meddled in the matter — and he looked as 
if he meant what he said. We arrived at Baltimore about four o'clock 
in the afternoon, and as my wounded allies were gone, my troubles 
re-commenced. Martial law existed in the city and a general stampede 
was the order of the clay. The rebel cavalry might arrive any moment. 
Troops were hurrying to and fro, artillery commanded the approaches to the 
city, and strong squads of provost guard patroled the streets. Trucks, 
loaded with furniture blocked narrow alleys, carts and wagons commanded 
any price, and the railway trains leaving the city were crowded to overflow- 
ing. Many of the houses were ornamented with tiny flags, showing sym- 
pathy with our army, while many others were shut up and barricaded. 
The most intense excitement prevailed. There seemed little chance of 
going any further with the remains of our brave colonel and major, and to 
leave them was not to be thought of. Placing Fisher in charge, of the 
bodies I made the best of my way to General Schenck's Headquarters, but 
access to the general was impossible, the same as regards his adjutant-gen- 
eral. A gentlemanly aide told me dead bodies were not important, com- 
pared to live ones, said there was no time to think about such things, and 
advised me to have my friends quietly buried, if I could. I was at my wit's 
ends. I went to a telegraph office, and gave the operator telegrams for 
Dr. Sam Ellis, for Major Cromwell's brother, for the father of Lieuten- 
ant J. Milnor Brown, and for Major Cromwell's mother ; all of Avhich 
had been given me by Colonel Cummins, who I saw at our corps hos- 
pital just before I started. I was told they would be dispatched as soon 
as the military business would permit. 

I went again to General Schenck's Headquarters, and this time by 
dint of perseverance got to the office of Colonel Don Piatt, who was chief 
of staff to the general commanding. I stated my business to an aide who 
said I could not see Colonel Piatt, but that he had heard of Colonel Ellis 
through Captain Ben Piatt, and gave me a detail of men in charge of a 
non-commissioned officer with a carte blanche as far as concerned the city, 
and an order to the railway officials to take my cargo and party on the 
8.30 train the same morning. 

We now took possession of the first truck we met, dumped its load in 
the street, and adopting the military way of enforcing orders, had no 
trouble in compelling an undertaker to drop every thing and furnish 



200 HISTORY OF THE 124TH NEW YORK VOLUNTEERS. 

metallic cases in the place of the rough pine boxes, and at half-past 
eight o'clock were en route for New York. 

I arrived in Jersey City early Sunday morning and was compelled to 
leave the bodies there, as a permit was necessary to enable them to cross 
the river. So I drove directly to Dr. Samuel Ellis's in Third Avenue and 
performed my unpleasant duty as gently as I could. 

It was now so late I could not get to Cornwall and New Windsor, 
until the 5 p. M. train via. Fishkill. I sent a telegram to my father 
who was able to advise the Cromwells of the Major's death the same after- 
noon. 

I arrived in jSTewburgh late Sunday night, and Monday went to Corn- 
wall and told the Cromwells all of the sad news that remained to tell. 
The same day, July 7th, I found Mrs. Colonel Ellis in Xew York, and 
delivered some little things the Colonel had spoken of many times during 
his life, for he had often speculated of his death, and had so instructed me 
in case anything should happen to him. He had also called my attention 
to two silk handkerchiefs he wore about his waist, saying how handy they 
would be for a bandage or a tourniquet, and instructed me in making the 
latter for different parts of the limbs, making use of a key or stone or stick 
for pressure on the artery. After having seen Mrs. Ellis, your orders 
being completed, I returned to Baltimore the same night, and next morn- 
ing started for the regiment, which I found this morning at 8 o'clock, and 
reported for duty. 

Yours respectfully, 

H. P. Ramsdell. 
First Lieutenant and acting-adjutant. 

Early Saturday morning, July 12, four or five batteries which 
had come up during the night, moved to and occupied the most 
commanding positions in the vicinity ; a column of infantry 
hurried past and deployed in battle line about an eighth of a mile 
in front of where we had spent the night, and the division to 
which our regiment belonged was ordered to a new position half 
a mile to the left ; a train of ammunition wagons appeared on the 
scene with a fresh supply of cartridges, shot and shell, and every- 
thing indicated that our commander-in-chief expected to fignt 
another great battle at that point. The storm was not yet over, and 
considerable rain fell during the forenoon , but about 3 p. m. the 
sun came out and we all expected that a general advance would 
be immediately ordered ; yet hour after hour slipped by without 



FOLLOWING LEE BACK TO THE B APP AH ANN OK. 201 

bringing the expected " move forward," and when the gloom of 
night began to gather about us, the men set to work with a will, 
putting up their muslin shelters, for it was raining again. 

The 13th was a most gloomy Sunday. A drizzling rain fell 
from morn till night. Several times during the day orders came 
to strike tents, and on each occasion we hurried in line suppos- 
ing we were to move forthwith against the unseen foe ; but no 
advance was ordered and at dusk we once more spread our 
blankets on the wet strip of ground where we had lain the pre- 
vious night, and undisturbed slept soundly until morning. About 
9 a. m. on the 14th several mounted Union scouts, who had been 
sent out at daybreak, came galloping back with a report that the 
enemy had actually recrossed the swollen impassable Potomac, 
" bag and baggage." Half an hour later, the so long expected 
order reached us, and our division immediately moved forward. 
After advancing about two miles we passed over and were halted 
behind a line of earthworks of considerable strength, which had 
evidently been occupied but a few hours before. The camp fires, 
over which Lee's rear guard had boiled the last cups of coffee it 
was destined any considerable portion of the army of Northern 
Virginia should ever drink north of the Potomac, were yet burn- 
ing and, a fresh supply of brush being added, soon blazing away 
again, under the tin cups of our always dry — no matter how wet 
they are — boys in blue. About 2 p. m. the commissary wagons of 
our brigade were driven up with the usual clatter and shouts of 
" Hi ! ho ! — grub, grub, here's your grub," and the familiar reply 
" Turn out for your salt 'hoss,' sugar, coffee and hard-tack," 
echoed along the line. 

During an active campaign there is nothing of frequent occur- 
rence so universally appreciated by all concerned as the issuing 
and receiving of rations. One week of " soldier life on the march " 
seldom fails to develop in the majority of men a habit of obeying 
literally the injunction " Take therefore no thought for the mor- 
row ; " and if on the first day of the week you issue to the men 
of an old regiment rations for five days, you may count with 
certainty on finding the haversacks of fully one-third of them 



202 HISTORY OF THE 124T1I NEW YORK VOLUNTEERS. 

empty, before the end of the fourth day But the fact of the 
refilling of the empty haversacks with government rations was 
not all that made these occasions enjoyable. The mule drivers 
— a class of non-combatants never particularly noted for over- 
strict adherence to the truth, nor yet for their conscientious scru- 
ples aginst borrowing from strangers they never expected to 
meet again — generally brought to their especial friends in the 
ranks some article of food not issued by Uncle Sam, but which 
of course they had paid some southern farmer a " mighty big 
price " for. The quartermasters, and their assistants too, were 
in nine cases out of ten, whole-souled, good-natured fellows who 
seemed to think that one of their chief duties was to " wake up 
the boys " and make everybody feel good whenever they visited 
their regiments ; and they generally had some daring personal 
exploit to talk about, new joke to crack, or a wonderful story to 

tell. 

Our commissary sergeant (afterward quartermaster) Ellis Post 
was now the heaviest man in the 124th. He had been growing 
fatter and fatter ever since the date of his enlistment, and was 
almost always — when not studying over some contemplated mis- 
chief, or bent on carrying out some piece of devilment already 
planned — exceedingly jolly But on this occasion, when the 
company commissaries came to his wagon and asked for about half 
the number of rations that had formerly been called for, he was 
so forcibly reminded of the many brave ones who had been wont 
to welcome him, but who, alas, would never greet him again, that 
he was obliged to depend almost exclusively on the sense of feel- 
ing to determine what the barrels in front of him contained. He 
had visited the regiment but twice since the terrible battle 
at Gettysburg, and when a newly appointed sergeant ventured to 
remind him that he was dealing out double the quantity of rations 
asked for, Post hurled at the innocent honest fellow's head a 
huge rib piece of salt pork which he had just hooked from the 
brine, called him a worthless, brainless, galoot, wondered that 
such a fool had been sent to draw rations, declared that the rest 
of the boys were out with Ellis and Cromwell on picket, and that 



FOLLOWING LEE BACK TO THE RAPPAHANNOCK. 203 

he could whip any worthless vagabond who dared say they were 
not. 

While Post was dealing out at least a hundred more rations 
than we had men in the regiment, quartermaster Travis, who 
had come up with the wagon but did not find it convenient on 
that occasion to superintend the work of his assistants, related to 
a group of attentive listeners the following particulars of a grand 
charge he had led in person during the recent battle : 

"When the fighting commenced at Gettysburg, the Third 
Corps wagon train was ordered to park at Westminster, which 
you know is located abont thirty miles southeast of Gettysburg, 
and is the terminus of a railroad which runs into Baltimore. 
Well, when the order reached us we were about five miles from 
the place. There was only a very light guard with the train, 
and for several hours we had been doing our level best to keep 
out of the way of Jeff. Stuart's cavalry, squads of which were 
hovering around our flanks and ever and anon making a dash at 
some weak point, and cutting loose and driving off a team of 
mules, and of course the wagons from which the mules had been 
driven, not only partially blocked the road but had to be aban- 
doned." At this point an attentive listener broke in with the 
question " I say, Lieutenant, did Jeff's fellers gobble the mule 
louts too, or did they ride off in an opposite direction on " — 
Here Travis in turn broke in on his interrogator, with a " shut up 
your mouth until I get through," and resumed his story - 

" Well, the wagons of our brigade were in the center of the 
train, which was several miles long, and just as we reached West- 
minster, word came in that Jeff's troopers had been called off 
from the flanks, and were making things red hot at the extreme 
rear of the train, whereupon I was ordered to get together the 
mounted teamsters, arm them with such weapons as could be 
found in the brigade wagons, and hasten out to the assistance of 
the guard and teamsters, and help bring in the hindermost por- 
tion of the train. I soon got together a company of about twenty 
men mounted on the very best mules in the brigade, then ran- 
sacked the baggage wagons and succeeded in finding a carbine, 



204 HISTORY OF THE 124TH NEW YOEK VOLUNTEERS. 

rifle, pistol or sabre for each of them, and placing myself at their 
head, led them off at a lively jog toward the scene of action. 
As soon as we had passed the last wagon, which, by the way, was 
being brought in by two leaders and one tongue mule on a dead 
run, without guard or driver, I halted and deployed my command 
in a heavy skirmish line directly across the road. Our sudden 
and bold approach caused an advance squad of the enemy which 
had just before our arrival made a dash for and nearly captured 
that last wagon, to fall back into a piece of woods. After that, 
for a few minutes everything was serene — not a Reb in sight, and 
the only noise that reached our ears was the clattering thunder 
of our wagons, which, safe behind my protecting line, were being 
hurried farther, and yet farther away — then suddenly there came 
a rustling clattering sound from that piece of woods in front, and 
out of it came a squadron of Jeff's troopers, making directly for 
us on a keen jump. I immediately ordered my gallant boys to 
open fire, but somehow nobody's ammunition fitted his piece. 
There was now nothing left us to do but make a counter charge. 
Just then several bullets whistled among us and one of our mules 
was wounded in the tip of his right ear, at which — though my 
men without exception displayed the most admirable coolness 
and waited patiently for the order " Charge, my hearties, charge " 
which I was just in the act of shouting — his brother mules with 
one accord dropped their tails between their legs, rested their 
under lips against their breasts, settled back on their haunches, 
wheeled about, stretched out their necks again, defiantly shook 
their natural weapons of defence at the foe and, as if partaking 
of the noble impulse which actuated their riders, the brave brutes, 
unable longer to restrain themselves — charged ! yes, boys, boldly 
charged right through the solid lines of a — a — Union cavalry 
regiment which was advancing from the village to co-operate with 
us." " Well, Lieutenant, what did you do then — if I may now be 
permitted to ask a question " — put in the sergeant whose first 
inquiry had been so unceremoniously cut short. And the answer 
came, " Why, you ass, the cavalry commander ranked me and I 



FOLLOWING LEE BACK TO THE RAPPAHANNOCK. 205 

turned over my forces to him and hastened to the rear for addi- 
tional reinforcements." 

The report of the enemy's escape across the Potomac, which 
our scouts brought in that morning, was found to be correct in 
every particular, and at early daylight on the 15th the advance 
brigades of Meade's army were moving down the northeastern 
shore of the Potomac, on the roads leading toward Berlin. Our 
division started at 6 a. m., marched across the country in an 
easterly direction until it struck the Frederick City pike near 
Fairplay, moved down the pike ;ibout four miles and then, — 
changing direction to the right — passed over the battle-field and 
through the bullet-scarred forests of Antietam. We reached 
Sharpsburg about noon, bivouacked on the outskirts of the village 
three hours, and then moved on down the Harper's Ferry road 
four miles and pitched our tents for the night. 

At 5 p m. on the 11th, after a well conducted march of ten 
miles, we bivouacked in a piece of woods three miles west of 
Knoxville. On the 17th, we crossed the Potomac on a pontoon 
bridge at Harper's Ferry and spent the night three miles beyond 
the river. On the 18th, we moved eight miles, and ate our even- 
ing meal and spent the night at Hillsborough. 

Early Sunday morning (the 19th) we heard distant thunder- 
ing of artillery, which appeared to come from the direction of 
Snicker's Grap, and were hurried off in that direction for about 
seven miles. Then a halt was sounded, and after resting half an 
hour on the sides of the road, we were directed to file into an 
adjacent field and pitch our tents. About noon a Union spy, 
dressed in the uniform of a Confederate cavalryman, rode into 
our lines. The fellow attracted considerable attention, and his 
pompous, lordly bearing, as he rode through our camp on his 
way to head-quarters, caused a vast amount of merriment. 
During the afternoon there was preaching or other religious 
services in nearly every regiment in the division. 

On the 20th we received marching orders about 3 a. m., had 
breakfast before daylight, moved eighteen miles and encamped 
before dark in a piece of woods near Upperville, where we rested 



206 HISTORY OF THE 124TH NEW YOKE VOLUNTEERS. 

undisturbed until about noon on the 21st, when an order detail- 
ing the 124th for a tour of picket duty reached our camp. Blan- 
kets and tents were soon rolled and strapped, and a staff officer 
— who had brought the order and remained in camp while we 
were packing up — conducted us to the picket line which had 
been established about two miles beyond where our division was 
lying. Nothing of especial interest occurred that night, and the 
forenoon of the 22d was passed very pleasantly, but while eat- 
ing our dinner, we heard the sound of bugles, and presently an 
order reached me which stated that our division was moving 
southward on the Warrenton pike, and directed me to withdraw 
my regiment from the picket line, move rapidly forward and join 
it at the earliest possible moment. An hour later we came up 
with the rear of our brigade and took position in the moving 
column. About three p. m. we changed direction to the right, 
and it became very apparent that the ground on which we were 
to bivouac, lay in Manassas gap. After an afternoon's march 
of at least fourteen miles, the 124th filed from the road into the 
same field where the regiment, on that bitter cold night nearly 
nine months before, had, hungry and blanketless, shivered the 
dark hours away But few tents were pitched that evening 
and not a few of our number lay awake for hours, rolled in their 
warm blankets, looking off toward that dark steep mountain side 
which had been the scene of our regiment's first skirmish — 
thinking of the then and now, and of events that had intervened. 
Then the regiment numbered for duty over seven hundred rank 
and file, and had a full field and staff, and twenty-five line 
officers — now, though Captain Silliman with Lieutenant Crissie, 
and about thirty convalescents had recently rejoined us, there 
were present in the battalion less than two hundred, all told. 
Where w T ere the absent ones ? Several times during the night 
there came echoing through the gap the sound of one, two, and 
sometimes three or four rifle shots, fired in quick succession, 
which told that the videttes of the opposing forces were not far 
apart, and caused me to wonder what the morrow had in store 
for us. 



FOLLOWING LEE BACK TO THE B APP A HANNO CK. 207 

On the morning of the 23d, it was rumored that General 
Meade had resolved to push a large force through the gap and 
attempt to fall upon an isolated corps of Lee's army which was 
reported to be lying at Front Royal, on the opposite side of the 
mountain. Our corps, the Third, was now commanded by Major 
General French, and had, since the battle of Gettysburg, been 
strengthened by a division of new troops nearly eight thousand 
strong. We were a day's march in advance of the other corps of 
the army, and for that reason I presume General French was 
selected as the leader of this bold and apparently hazardous 
undertaking, the success of which evidently depended on its being 
commenced immediately and prosecuted with the utmost vigor. 
Our division, which was yet commanded by General Ward, had 
led the corps to the gap and bivouacked several miles in advance 
of the other divisions. 

When the rumor referred to reached us we were eating break- 
fast, and before we had finished, the attention was sounded from 
brigade head-quarters. The 124th was soon in line, but after 
standing to arms ten or fifteen minutes without noticing any 
further indications of an immediate movement, I ordered them to 
stack arms and break ranks, at which not a few of the boys hur- 
ried back to their camp fires, bent on having another cup of coffee 
before they started. 

General French had, it appears, decided to have the three 
divisions which composed his corps, move through the gap in the 
same order in which they had advanced to it ; but for some, to 
me, inexplicable reason we did not leave the fields in which we 
had spent the night until the sun was four hours high. General 
Ward and staff had moved up and planted the division flag only 
a few rods behind our gunstacks, and Captain Jackson had just 
remarked, " It is five minutes past ten," when I heard the General 
order his horse and say to one of his aids, who was in the act of 
mounting, " Let my old brigade take the lead — tell Colonel Ber- 
dan to move forward immediately " In five minutes our column 
was formed and under way We soon reached and passed 
through a light line of cavalry pickets, and there were then no 



208 HISTORY OF THE 124TH NEW YORK VOLUNTEERS. 

Union troops ahead of our brigade except a company of mounted 
men, which acted as an advance guard and with very little diffi- 
culty forced back the enemy's scouts, which had spent the night 
in front of our picket line. 

We moved slowly and cautiously, and all went well until 
about noon, when, just after we had passed the little village 
of Lynden, the crackling of musketry, not more than an eighth 
of a mile away, caused a halt to be ordered. 

The clatter in front lasted but a minute or two, and while we 
stood there waiting for orders to move on, a man in company 
" G " began reciting in school-boy fashion, Campbell's " Hohen- 
linden." At every pause he was greeted with some such remarks 
as " Choke him off, give him a hard tack, or see his knees shake." 
But the fellow good-naturedly kept on till he came to, " Then 
shook the hills with thunder riv'n," when a bullet went whistling 
past within a few feet of his head, at which— in obedience to an 
irresistible impulse every truly brave soldier understands — he 
first dodged and then, as if to make it appear the dodging was 
done as a joke, shouted in a loud voice, " I say, master, I 
didn't mean any harm — I— I won't do so any more." But his 
remarks were unheeded. The time for joking and mirth-making 
had passed. There was evidently stern w T ork close at hand. 

The two regiments of sharp-shooters, with the 3d and 4th Maine, 
63d Pennsylvania and 20th Indiana, were hurried forward and 
formed in a heavy skirmish line which ran across the road and 
up the sides of the mountain. The 124th, 99th Pennsylvania and 
86th New York were retained as a supporting force and remained 
in column. The order to move forward was given. The sup- 
porting column kept close to the skirmish line, which could move 
but slowly as the regiments who were on the flanks had continu- 
ally to push their way through thick brush or climb over logs 
and rocks, which covered the sides of the mountain. Presently 
one of General Ward's aids, who had been to the rear, rode up 
and reported that General Prince with Humphrey's White 
Diamond division was close at hand ready to support us. Our 
skirmish line kept up a straggling fire, which, as we neared the 



WAPPIKG HEIGHTS. 209 

western end of the gap gradually increased, while the enemy's 
bullets coming thicker, and yet thicker, hissed and whistled through 
the air, but fortunately passed harmlessly over the heads of those 
who were moving in column and buried themselves in the sides 
of the mountain above and behind us. The enemy now evidently 
had a skirmish line facing ours and falling back as we advanced. 
Occasionally a wounded man would be borne past, or could be 
seen hobbling along the mountain side on his way to the rear. 
Presently as we came to a place where the roads turned suddenly 
to the right, " Halt — halt — halt — spoken in an undertone, ran 
along the skirmish line. A solid battle line of the foe had been 
discovered on the top of a lofty ridge which loomed up directly 
in front of us. 

General Ward soon appeared upon the scene and virtually 
assumed the immediate direction of our brigade. The two regi- 
ments of sharp-shooters, with the 20th Indiana and 63d Pennsyl- 
vania, had formed the right and left of our skirmish line, and had 
been moving high up on the sides of the mountain. When the 
order to halt was given, portions of the lines of each of these 
regiments were in plain sight of the enemy's battle line ; and they 
were therefore pushed boldly forward until they came within 
short range of the flanks of the enemy's position, when taking 
shelter behind the trees and rocks, they opened and maintained a 
brisk and deliberate fire, picking off not a few of the foe, and 
causing no little consternation in his ranks. Chaplain Barbour of 
the sharp-shooters — one of the best shots in our army — who, 
with his trusty rifle in hand moved with the skirmishers, soon 
caught sight of a Confederate marksman posted in the top of a 
tree, and by several carefully directed shots so demoralized the 
poor fellow that he dropped his own gun, descended to the ground 
begging for mercy and ran into our lines declaring that the first 
bullet had taken off his hat and that the- next two had singed 
his hair. 

The two Maine regiments were mean time caused to ploy in 
solid line, and ordered to creep cautiously up the steep side of 
the hill in front and make a direct assault on the enemy's center. 



210 HISTOEY OF THE 124TH NEW YORK VOLUNTEERS. 

As soon as this assaulting line began to advance, General Ward 
placed himself at the head of our supporting column and led us 
through the trees and brush and over the rocks after it. As we 
neared the thickly wooded crest where the foe was posted we 
came to a cleared field and the General, without halting the head 
of the column, gave in a gruff undertone the order, " Forward 
into line." The 124th being in rear of the 99th and 86th was 
obliged to double-quick for some distance, and before the line was 
completed, the enemy caught sight of, opened a terrific fire on, 
and checked the advance of the Maine regiments. Our partly 
formed supporting line now slackened its pace but did not 
immediately halt. The right of the 124th was soon in position, 
and as I hurried the left forward the enemy's bullets began to 
whistle close to our heads. As the men of Company G came 
straggling up almost out of breath, I noticed David W Dewitt, 
who had formerly been one of our general guides, and riding up to 
him was in the act of ordering him to follow me, as I wished 
to have him move as a marker to show in what direction the line 
was to be prolonged ; but just then a bullet hit him and he fell 
dead beside me. We were soon close to the advance line and 
General Ward shouted to its leader " Move forward and clear 
that hill or I will send the 86th and 124th through }'Our ranks 
to do it for you." This was too much for veterans who boasted 
of having fought under Phil. Kearney, and with one of the wildest 
and most determined shouts I ever heard, they rushed forward, 
gained the summit, poured a volley point blank into the ranks of 
the foe, charged forward through the smoke and cleared the hill 
— taking a considerable number prisoners, and routing the bal- 
ance, who fled panic-stricken down the opposite slope. General 
Ward now, in obedience to orders which had reached him during 
the advance, halted the brigade and directed Colonel Berdan to 
reform and extend his skirmish line. 

It was soon discovered that the force which had just been 
routed was rallying to the support of a Confederate regiment 
which held position on another hill, similar to the one the gallant 
sons of Maine had carried, and but a quarter of a mile beyond it. 



WAPPING HEIGHTS. 211 

We of course expected that as soon as the skirmish line was 
reformed the order would come for our brigade to move on and 
drive the enemy from that also, but our corps commander had 
willed it otherwise. s After an hour's delay the Excelsior brigade 
of Prince's division reached, and was led through, our picket line 
by F B. Spinola, a newly appointed general officer who was said 
to have brought with him to the field two or three newspaper 
reporters, and to be "thirsting for glory " And most gallantly 
did he lead his command down the slope, through the valley and 
on up the hill beyond — right against the enemy's line. The 
clatter of musketry settled to a continuous roar, and clouds of 
powder smoke shut the combatants from our view. Presently 
shout after shout rent the air, the continuous roar dwindled to 
a feeble crackling again, and as the smoke lifted, we could see 
the Excelsiors reforming their line just where that of the enemy 
had been. 

The Union loss in this assault was quite severe. Several 
field officers fell, and General Spinola was carried to the rear 
" covered with glory " and bleeding from tw T o wounds ; but his 
successor — Colonel Farnum of the 70th New York — suffered the 
brigade to halt only long enough to reform his line, when he 
caused the " Forward " to be sounded, at which the White 
Diamonds, with another wild shout that made the woods ring 
again, rushed on after the disorganized retreating foe, and with 
charge after charge drove him from hill top to hill top, down the 
western slope of the mountain toward Front Royal, into which 
place the brave Excelsiors declared they would have followed 
him, had not their leader been overtaken by an aid who brought 
him positive orders to give o'er the pursuit. 

The afternoon was now well nigh spent. " In the mean 
time," writes a correspondent from army head-quarters — which 
during the movements referred to had been located on a moun- 
tain peak that overlooked the entire field of operations — " word 
was received by General Meade that the rebel corps which had 
moved down the valley was returning, leaving the impression 
that it was their intention to make the desperate stand and give 



213 HISTORY OF THE 124TH NEW YORK VOLUNTEERS. 

us the decisive battle at that point. Acting upon this informa- 
tion General Meade directed General French to suspend his main 
operations for the present and mass his troops in rear of the 
points already gained, and ordered up the bulk of his army in 
anticipation of a battle on the following morning. The narrow 
gap was crowded that night with troops packed in dense masses 
so thick as to be scarcely able to lie down. The disposi- 

tions for battle were all made as the troops arrived during the 
evening, and at early daylight we had a line of battle which, if it 
was not very extensive, was certainly most formidable. It 
stretched from mountain top to mountain top, across the mouth 
of the gap, and would have defied assault. But no assault came. 
When daylight appeared the fact was revealed that the enemy 
had wholly disappeared. A detachment from the Third corps 
was ordered forward into Front Royal, arriving there only in 
time to see the dust of the enemy's rear column moving south- 
ward." 

The only member of the 124th killed in this affair was 
David W Dewitt, of Company G. Seven or eight of our number 
were hit by partly spent bullets, but no one was so severely 
wounded as to make it necessary for him to leave the regiment, 
except Corporal Harrison Bull, of Company B. 

Our brigade spent the night of the 23d on the hill it had so 
gallantly carried. On the 24th, about 1 p. m. we began to retrace 
our steps down the side of the mountain ; and on reaching the 
road moved back through the gap at a rapid gait, halting only a 
few moments at a time until we were near Springfield, when the 
order came to bivouac for the night. On the 25th, we marched 
about fourteen miles, passing through Salem. On the 26th 
made ten miles, moving through and encamping two miles south 
of Warrentown. 

The great Gettysburg, or summer campaign of 1863, was 
now at an end. Lee's army had halted and was intrenching itself 
in the vicinity of Culpepper, and his videttes were once more to 
be seen lounging under the trees along the southern shore of the 
Rappahannock. Meade had resolved to give his army a few 



WAPPING HEIGHTS. 213 

weeks' rest, and his picket posts were ;igain established along the 
northern shore of the same insignificant river; across which, as 
of old, the opposing sentinels, instead of sending bullets at each 
other, leaned on their guns and shouted such greetings as, " I 
say, Johnnies, any objection to our fishing in this stream," — 
" Not a bit, hope you catch a right smart lot, but Yanks, have 
you uns got lots of coffee," and then a beckoning of the finger 
which generally meant, " Come out in the stream the first chance 
you get and we will meet you half way, and trade you a Rich- 
mond paper for a package of coffee." Now it was the duty of 
officers on both sides to prevent these exchanges, but they were 
nevertheless of almost daily occurrence. 



214 HISTORY OF THE 124TII NEW YOKE VOLUNTEERS. 



CHAPTER XII. 

AT SULPHUR SPRINGS AND CULPEPPER CENTREVILLE CAMPAIGN. 

ABOUT the middle of July, I was instructed to select three 
commissioned officers and six enlisted men from the regi- 
ment, who in my judgment, were proper persons to send north 
on recruiting service, and forward a list of their names to corps 
head-quarters. That there was a prospect of swelling our ranks 
to something like their original proportions was most welcome 
news. David W Dewitt, Charles P F. Fisher, and Lieutenant 
Milner Brown, were the only persons whose names had been 
added to the muster rolls of the regiment since our departuro 
from Goshen, over ten months before; and after two of these 
names, there was to be written before the next muster day, the 
words "Killed in battle." Dewitt joined Company G, at camp 
Ellis, September 16th, 1862, and was killed at Wapping Heights, 
Va., July 23d, 1863.- Fisher enlisted in Company C at Lovetts- 
ville, Loudon county, Va., on the 28th day of October, 1862, 
and was yet in the land of the living, but unfortunately was 
reported, " absent without leave." He, however, subsequently 
returned to duty, was wounded fighting bravely in the front rank 
of his company, captured by the enemy, and died — for want of 
sufficient food, (I will not write it " of starvation" ) in that foul 
prison pen at Andersonville. Lieutenant Brown joined the 
regiment near Gum Springs, Loudon county, Va,, June 22d, 
and was killed at Gettysburg, Penn., July 2d, 1863. 
In addition to our permanent losses already recorded, 

Sergeant John Cowdry, of Co. D. 

John Hall, of . Co. D. John H. H. Conklin, of Co. G. 

Angus Carman, of. " H. James W. Parsons, of. . " E. 

Alfred Yeomans, of.. " B. John W Taylor, of. .. " E, 

had died of disease contracted in the line of duty, 

Samuel D. Latham, of Co. G. John C. Storms, of . . . ... Co. B. 

John Van Houten, of " F. Hugh Topping, of .. . ._.,... ._, __" A. 



AT SULPHUR SPRINGS AND CULPEPPER. 215 

had been discharged because of physical disability, and a large 
number of our severely wounded had been either mustered out 
or transferred to the veteran reserve corps. It was certainly 
time some determined effort was made to add to our numbers if 
we expected to retain our regimental organization. 

Captain Silliman was the most experienced officer among us 
as to the details of recruiting service. He was also, at the time, 
so worn down physically as to be unfit for active duty I there- 
fore resolved to place his name at the head of the list called for, 
and consulted him in my selection of the others. After due 
deliberation the list was made out and forwarded, and on the 
27th day of July, it came back to us in the following shape. 

" GENERAL ORDERS NO. 20." 

Headquarters 3d Army Corps, Upperville, Va., July 22d, 1863. 

The following named officers, and enlisted men, 'detailed in compli- 
ance with circular from War Department, A. G. 0., dated July 3d, 1863, 
will report without delay to the Commanding Officer of the Rendezvous 
for their State. 

In States which have more than one Rendezvous, the detachments for 
the respective regiments will report to the Commanding Officer of that 
Rendezvous nearest to which the regiment was recruited and organized. 

**l* *L" *l* *l* •£- ^f? ±&? it? 

rj* ^ »|* rjp *%i ^ *f* *J* 

124th New York Vols. Captain William Silliman. 

2d Lieutenant Charles T. Crissey, 
2d Lieutenant James A. Grier, 
Sergeant William Mead Co. C. 
J. H. Hanford " B. 
J. A. Beakes " E. 
J. J. Crawford " K. 
Corporal J. A T an Zile " I. 

G. Bertholf " D. 

By command of 

Major General Erench. 
W F. A. Torbert, A. D. C. & A. A. A. Genl. 

Official. 

Headquarters, 1st Div, 3d Corps July 27, 1863. 

(Sgd.) F. Birney, Capt, & A. A. G. 

Official. 

Headquarters, 2d Brig. 1st Div. 3d Corps, July 27, 1863. 

George 0. Mare-en Let.. & A, A. A. G. — ■• 



216 HISTORY OF THE 124TII NEW YORK VOLUNTEERS. 

On the 28th, Lieutenant Colonel Cummins, who had just 
returned to, and assumed command of the regiment, issued ser- 
geant's warrants to Corporals Van Zile and Bertholf. On the 
morning of the 29th, Captain Silliman and the lieutenants and 
sergeants above named took their departure; and the regiment 
lost three able commissioned, and five first-class non-commissioned 
officers ; for sergeant Mead was the only one of the party who 
ever returned to active and permanent duty with the 124th, and 
he did not get back to us until January, 1865. 

On the afternoon of the last day of July, our brigade moved 
about three miles and we pitched our tents at Sulphur Springs. 
On the 4th of August, we packed up again and marched forward 
about one and a half miles to a camping ground which had been 
selected for us in a rather extensive grove of pines, near a small, 
dirty, sluggish little stream, called Great Hun. Here we staked 
out a camp, cleared away the underbrush and leaves, lay out our 
company streets, and once more pitched our tents in regulation 
style. Then we took up again the routine duties of " soldier life 
in camp" — established a camp guard and guard-house, had squad 
or company drill in the forenoon, battalion or brigade drill in the 
afternoon and dress parade at sunset. This order of duties was 
of course frequently varied by a three days' tour on the picket 
line, and occasionally by an inspection or grand review 

In this camp near Sulphur Springs we passed six weeks very 
pleasantly Nearly every day small squads of men were permitted 
to visit the springs, and drink of the nauseous water, which may 
have had a beneficial effect on the health of many of those who 
partook of it unadulterated. There was, it is true, an unusually 
large number in the regimental hospital, but not a death is 
recorded as having taken place in the regiment during our sojourn 
at that famous Southern watering place. 

The warm days of August slipped quietly by without bring- 
ing to us any news, or even rumors of importance, so far as that 
portion of the army to which we belonged was concerned. But 
on the 10th day of September, General Meade, having learned 
that the bulk of Lee's army had fallen back from Culpepper, 



AT SULPHUR SPRINGS AND CULPEPPER. 217 

poshed forward a heavy cavalry force and drove the balance 
across the Rapidan. As soon as this was accomplished our entire 
army was transferred to the region lying between the two rivers, 
and a strong picket line was established along the northern banks 
of the Rapidan, which became, instead of the Rappahannock, the 
line which separated the camping grounds of the two armies. 

Our brigade broke camp near Sulphur Springs on the after- 
noon of the 15th, and moved leisurely forward about three miles. 
On the 16th we resumed the march at an early hour, waded the 
Rappahannock at Freedman's Ford, and the Hazel River, some 
two miles beyond ; and then after a half hour's halt continued 
our march southward, and did not bivouac until two hours after 
sundown. On the 17th we advanced about three miles and 
pitched our tents within a mile of Culpepper. That night a rain 
storm set in, but about noon on the 18th it cleared again; and 
our new grounds having been pointed out to us, the men were 
set to work, and before the shades of night fell about us, we had 
a very respectable appearing camp again. 

On the afternoon of the 21st, it was rumored that another 
general movement was contemplated. About midnight five days' 
rations were brought into camp, and an order was received which 
directed that they be distributed immediately All hands were 
soon routed up, and when half an hour later we returned to our 
tents with well filled haversacks, all were agreed in the opinion 
that we were not to spend another night in that vicinity But 
the next night found us in the same spot, and so did the second 
and third. The contemplated movement had either been aban- 
doned, or postponed indefinitely, and we gradually slipped back 
into the old ruts of camp life. 

Saturday, the 26th, our Paymaster made us one of his ever- 
welcome visits, and dealt out a considerable quantity of green- 
backs. 

About 2 p. m. on the 30th, our entire brigade assembled on an 
open field an eighth of a mile from our camp, to witness the execu- 
tion of a most humiliating sentence, which had been justly pro 
nounced by a military court on a deserter from. our. regiment— 



218 HISTORY OF THE 124TH NEW YOEK VOLUNTEERS. 

one of that squad of base traitors whose names form the only- 
foul blots to be found on the pages of the otherwise bright, and 
gloiious record of the 124th New York Volunteers. 

The brigade was drawn up in two parallel battle lines, which 
faced each other and were about eight feet apart. The culprit 
was brought to one end of the intervening space, where in the 
presence of over two thousand unwilling spectators the hair was 
clipped from one side of his head, and the buttons rudely torn 
from his coat. Then, preceded by a drum corps beating the 
rogue's march, and followed by a row of leveled bayonets carried 
so close to him that he was pricked by them at nearly every step, 
he was marched slowly down the line, until he had passed the 
regiment he had especially dishonored ; when the drum corps 
moved rapidly from in front of him, and the provost-guard brought 
their pieces to a shoulder, and with hoots and bitter gibes, kicked 
him off the field. As the miserable wretch disappeared from our 
sight, and went, I know not where, the lines were broken and the 
regiments moved back to their respective camps ; and not a few 
brave sons of Old Orange, were that day heard to groan out, 
while their faces flushed from shame, such expressions as " Death ! 
death ! ! yes, rather death a thousand times, than such disgrace. 1 ' 

On the second day of October, Colonel Cummins, having 
received a five days 1 leave of absence, took the evening train north. 
Sunday afternoon, October 4th, T caused the regiment to be 
assembled in a grove near our camp, and Chaplain Bradner 
preached to us a sermon which was well received and greatly 
appreciated by all. On the 5th our entire brigade, with the 
exception of General Ward and staff, myself, eight or ten line 
officers, and about three hundred enlisted men, left camp for a 
three days' tour on the picket line. 

About nine o'clock on the evening of the 6th, I was handed a 
circular order from brigade headtpiarters, the body of which read, 
" You will cause every officer and man in your camp to assemble 
forthwith, in light marching order " While I was reading this 
order, one of General Ward's aids rode up and, after notifying me 
that all the troops of the brigade remaining in camp, were being 



AT StTLPHUll SPRINGS AND CULPEPPER. 219 

ordered to report to me on the color line of the 124th, said it 
was the general's order, that I should take command of them and 
as soon as they all arrived move to an open field about a quarter 
of a mile in front, and establish a picket line which would cover 
the camps of the second brigade. I was then informed that a 
large body of the enemy's cavalry had forced back a considerable 
portion of the Union line of mounted videttes and was reported to 
be threatening a dash on the third corps pickets at a point almost 
directly in front of our camp. 

The detachments collected from the camps of the various 
regiments of the brigade were soon all on hand, and I moved 
out with them and formed an inner picket line as directed. 
Occasionally there came from the front the sound of a rifle shot 
or two, but nothing to indicate any considerable disturbance. 
After about an hour, during the greater part of which I remained 
mounted, there crept over me an almost irresistible desire to lie 
down, and I began to look about me for a suitable place ; but 
the ground was so level that lie where I would, my head seemed 
to be loAver than my shoulders. Then I tried to find something 
I could use as a pillow. I had neglected to hring a blanket and 
it would not do to take the saddle from my horse, for I might 
want to mount at any moment. Perhaps I could find a stone 
large enough for a head rest. But no, although stones were 
plenty, the largest to be found were no bigger than hens' eggs ; 
and at last I filled a pocket handkerchief with these. But some- 
how it was not a success ; either the pillow was too hard, or 
my head was too soft ; and besides the ground w T as unusually 
damp. I finally concluded that the whole thing was a grand 
farce, and sent a lieutenant, who belonged to the 86th New York, 
back to General Ward with a request that I might be permitted 
to turn over my command to the senior officer under me and ride 
out to the front and learn if possible just what the real trouble 
was. The Lieutenant soon returned and stated that the General 
readily acceded to my request, and desired me to report to him in 
person when I returned. 

I soon reached a road which ran past our camp and toward 



220 HISTORY OF THE 124TH NEW YORK VOLUNTEERS. 

the front, and galloping clown it about a mile, came suddenly upon 
a frame farm house quite brilliantly lighted, and noticed floating 
from a staff which had been placed in the ground in front of one 
of the windows, a new brigade flag, and found myself at the head- 
quarters of the chief officer of the picket line. Behind the house 
there was a grand reserve of at least six hundred men standing 
to arms. In the door yard there stood half a dozen orderlies 
each holding two or three horses. 

I drew rein in front and looked toward the house a few 
moments and then dismounted, tied my horse to the fence — and 
requesting a guard who was pacing to and fro near by to watch 
him — walked to the open door and looked upon the scene within. 
The first thing that attracted my attention was the ticking of a 
telegraph machine, and I noticed that two wires ran out of one 
of the windows. The machine was on a table at the farther end 
of the room. At the side of the operator there sat a bran new 
brigadier — at all events he was dressed in a suit of new clothes, 
with wonderfully bright buttons and shoulder straps. There were 
gathered about the general, standing in very respectful attitudes, 
several staff officers, all with uncovered heads, cleanly shaved 
and untanned faces, and fresh uniforms. Had the little contra- 
band Jack Smith been standing behind me, I should have expected 
to have heard him whisper, " Ox in the parlor." 

Orderlies and aids were rushing in and out with orders to 
and from the front. The telegraph operator was kept busy dis- 
patching messages repeated to him in an undertone. The cool- 
ness displayed by the General and his staff officers was evidently 
forced, and I was soon strongly impressed with the opinion that 
let the trouble at the front be what it might, there was somebody 
badly frightened at the headquarters of the officer in chief of the 
pickets. Presently I walked boldly into the room, saluted the 
general, stated that I had in obedience to orders, from General 
Ward of the 1st division of the Third corps, established an inner 
picket line that covered our camps, and had come out to learn 
just where that portion of the main line picketed by our divis- 
ion was located, and to hear if possible what had taken place in 



AT SULPHUR SPRINGS AND CULPEPPER. 221 

its immediate front. He received me very kindly, and at once 
ordered one of his aids to accompany me. The aid in turn 
directed two orderlies to accompany him. 

About a quarter of a mile beyond the house we were halted 
by a sharp "Halt! Who comes there? 1 ' The challenge came 
from a line of mounted men drawn across a road which was at 
that point shaded by large trees. Passing these horsemen we 
rode on through intense gloom, for about forty rods, when we 
came to the opposite edge of what proved to be a long strip of 
woods. Here we found the infantry pickets and learned that the 
line ran just in the edge of the woods. Turning to the right we 
rode along in rear of the pickets three or four hundred feet 
when we came to the first sentry post of our division. I now 
began to question each man as to what he had seen or heard. 
Very few of them had seen anything unusual, but that was not 
to be wondered at, for it was a very dark night. They had how- 
ever all heard the tramp of a body of horses and several had 
fired in the direction the noise came from. Presently I came to 
a man of the 86th New York who told me the boys of the 124th 
joined their men only a few rods farther on. He, too, had heard 
the noise in front, and " blazed away "' with the rest of the boys, 
but did not think the enemy had fired a shot in reply We soon 
reached that portion of the line held by the Orange Blossoms, and 
the first man I came to was Mat. Crawley, of Company B. Now 
Mat. was a good-natured, truthful, but not over strong-minded 
son of Erin, who for a number of years before the war had been 
in the employ of my father ; and as soon as 1 heard his voice, I 
resolved to question him closely " Well Mat." I began, " what's 
the row — you don't pretend to think there are any ' Johnnie 
Rebs ' in front of you, do you ? " " Don't I then — well be gorry 
if you had been out here a little while ago, you wouldn't be after 
asking that question I'm thinking ; and 1 just advise you not to 
be talkin' so loud agin if you don't want to hear a little whistling 
near your hat," whispered Mat. I then asked him if he had 
heard any bullets whistling past his head, and his reply was, 
'" Why — why it's not mor'n a nour when they was trying to 



222 HISTORY OF THE 124TH NEW YORK VOLUNTEERS. 

break through our line right here, and we — and we peppered it 
into them so hard they had to give it up." " But did you see 
them, Mat ? " I asked. " Now ! now ! be gorry," said Mat., 
" you don't believe there was any greybacks here a fightin' us 
a-tall a-tall." " There is where you are just right," I made 
answer. At which Mat raised his voice, and in a tone which told 
that he was not only angry, but that his feelings had been 
injured, replied, " Well then, Captain — Major I mean — I knowed 
you when you wus a wee boy, and if you don't believe Mat as 
never told your father a lie, all you have to do, is to get down 
from your horse — for I don't want to see you kilt entirely right 
fernenst my eyes — and walk right out there ten paces, be gorry, 
and you will find some of them shot to flinders right fernenst 
Mat Crawley, as never told your father a lie, be gorry " This 
was a challenge I felt bound to accept, and after notifying the 
videttes on both sides of us what I was going to do, I dismounted 
and walked out past Mat with considerable show of bravery, but 
not without some inward quaking, and strong misgivings that 
after all Mat's fright had not been causeless, and that perhaps 
an enemy had heard our conversation, and was, with a loaded 
rifle, listening and watching for my approach. I remember that 
though I started out briskly enough, my steps as I advanced grew 
shorter and shorter, and somehow I breathed wonderfully loud. 
Presently I heard a slight noise and saw a dark object moving 
just ahead of me. My first impulse was to rush back to the 
picket line. Then I crouched down and instinctively felt for my 
revolver, which I knew I had left in the holster on my saddle. 
I believed that what I had seen was a man rising partially 
and then throwing himself down again. Perhaps after all, it was 
a poor wounded fellow who had been deserted by his friends and 
would be glad to be found even by his enemies. And I held my 
own breath, and listened to hear him breathe ; for a badly 
wounded man, if he does not groan, generally breathes audibly 
But instead of a slight groan or loud breathing, I heard a scratch- 
ing sound and soon felt myself growing brave again, for I was 
fast arriving at the conclusion that it was a wounded horse 



AT SULPHUE STRINGS AND CULPEPPER. 223 

instead of a man. Mat's story then was in the main correct. 
The foe had undoubtedly been there, but had certainly withdrawn 
to some other point. I asked in a suppressed tone, " Is there 
any wounded man about here." But no answer came to my 
inquiry. Then I moved cautiously around to the farther side 
of the wounded brute, and turning about so that I faced the 
Union line, took off my hat, and holding it lightly between my 
knees struck a lucifer match, and as the light flashed out I beheld 
lying in front of me a miserable hide-bare, glandered, dying mule. 
Without a word of comment, I walked back to the line 
whistling, 

" My Country ! 'tis of thee 
Sweet land of Liberty," 

mounted my horse and resumed my course along the line behind 
the videttes, receiving ever and anon, in answer to my inquiries 
the assurance that the only attack that had been made, was the 
one that had taken place at the point where the poor diseased 
mule had fallen. Nearly all, however, declared that they had 
heard distinctly, several times during the night, the distant tramp 
of a column of cavalry 

On reaching the right of the first division line, we moved back 
through the woods until we struck the open fields, where I bade 
my attendants good night; and as they returned to the grand 
reserve of the picket line, I made my way back to camp ; and 
after reporting to General Ward the result of my visit, was per- 
mitted to withdraw the line I had posted. But before we reached 
our tents again the darkness of night was fleeing away before the 
rapid approach of morning. 

When our regiment returned from the main picket line the 
boys reported that the morning after the scare a drove of about 
forty mules, all in the last stages of glanders, were wandering 
about in front of the lines. This little squad of dumb brutes, 
that had evidently been driven toward our lines in hope of spread- 
ing among the Union cavalry horses, the terrible disease of which 
they were dying, had caused twenty thousand troops a sleepless 
night. 



224 HISTORY OF THK 124TH NEW YORK VOLUNTEERS. 

On the 7th of October, Lieutenant Colonel Cummins returned 
to camp. On the morning of the 8th we were ordered to pre- 
pare for a march, and directed to fall in line without waiting for 
orders in case we heard heavy firing in direction of James City, 
a small village several miles to our right. The second division 
of our corps, it was said, had been ordered out in that direction. 
The Sixth corps had moved past our camp and marched to Ceder 
mountain on the 5th. The First corps was reported to be massed 
near Raccoon Ford ; all of which indicated that a general advance 
was not only contemplated but had actually been commenced. 

On the evening of the 8th, five days' rations were issued. 
About noon on the 10th, the thunder of artillery was heard from 
away off to our right, and our division was soon in line, and all 
ready to form column and move forward without one moment's 
delay An hour later our brigade moved from the woods in 
which it had been encamped, and stacked arms in an open field. 
The sound of artillery continued to be heard at intervals, and 
several times during the afternoon we were called in line but did 
not move. As the sun sank out of sight there came an order to 
send the men to the woods for limbs and brush, and to build large 
fires. As soon as these were started we lay down beside them 
and tried to sleep. 

The following graphic account of our march from Culpepper 
to Centreville, is from the pen of our chaplain, T. Scott Bradtier, 
and was published in the Goshen Democrat of Oct. 29th, 1863. 

"Last Saturday morning, (Oct 10th) we were at ease in 
camp, three miles west of Culpepper. Dr. Thompson and I had 
been to the town to get some sanitary stores. On going back at 
noon we found our camp all broken up, and hastily packed our 
personal baggage and with the corps took the road. About a 
mile south of Culpepper we halted in battle order, not knowing 
whether we were to be attacked there, go on to the Rapidan, or 
go back. Getting near dark, the air keen and cold, we began to 
make fires and get our supper, the horses saddled and packed, 
with the exception of blankets. Our prospect of a comfortable 
night was not. flattering, fprat 10 o'clock- the- order was brought 



AT SULPHUE SPEINGS AND CULPEPPER. 225 

for every man to be wide awake and ready to start at a 
moment's notice. It seems, the reason for our halting was to 
give the ambulance and wagon trains time to get ahead of us, 
and at 8 o'clock on Sunday as the last one passed us we resumed 
our march. We now began to realize that we were putting back 
to Sulphur Springs and perhaps Washington, a terrible march for 
the poor men. Sixty rounds of cartridges, eight da3 f s' rations, 
with clothing and blankets, will give you some conception of 
what was to be borne in a rapid march. We came back on 
the same road we went down, until we were in sight of the 
estate of John Miner Botts, when we turned to the left, mak- 
ing for Freeman's Ford, eight miles below Sulphur Springs. 
At 3 p. m. we halted. We had heard artillery on our 
right and in direction of Culpepper during the forenoon, now 
it opened again on our right and not more than two miles from 
us. From the fast riding of orderlies and aids, I expected we 
were in for a fight. We moved on three-quarters of a mile and 
formed in line of battle. Being on high ground we had a view 
of some part of the action. We could see the shells fly 

and our cavalry wheel on the plain and charge, but could not tell 
the result. After waiting an hour we took the road again and 
pushed on. It soon began to be whispered that Kilpatrick had 
whipped the Rebs, and driven them back to Culpepper. Night 
approaching we halted, stacked arms, and the men ran for rails 
and water, but the bugles then blew, " fall in," and now began a 
terrible march. Robbed of sleep the previous night, cold, hun- 
gry and tired, the night dark — in this condition we passed Hazel 
River, a branch of the Rappahannock about twelve rods wide. 
The pontoon bridge was taken up at 12 o'clock (midnight). 
The roads were good and dry and at 1 o'clock we saw ahead of 
us, hundreds of fires on the bluffs, and could hear the yells of a 
regiment at a time. We knew what this meant. It was our 
troops fording the Rappahannock, and it brought relief, for we felt 
an assurance that we could now rest. The river is neither deep 
nor wide ; officers and men, started in with a yell, a laugh and a 
joke, then out, and through the camp fires, winding among the 
15 



226 HISTORY OF THE 124TH NEW YORK VOLUNTEERS. 

hills for about a mile, when we halted for the night, made fires, 
had a cup of coffee, and at 2 o'clock laid down upon the ground 
to sleep. Monday morning we were started at daylight without 
time to make coffee ; but only moved a short distance to a wooded 
hill, where we remained all day. In the afternoon heard artillery 
firing again near Brandy Station, which we afterwards learned 
was the Sixth corps driving one of Lee's back. That night the 
124th and 86th, had to go on picket. The enemy's cavalry, 
artillery and infantry, it was said, were crossing up at Sulphur 
Springs and Fox's Ford — Kilpatrick being unable to hold them. 
I kept awake all night by walking. We were two miles out 
from the corps, the head of which passed us at daylight, Tuesday 
morning. The pickets were withdrawn and when our brigade 
came along we fell in with it. At 4 o'clock we were startled 
with the boom of cannon ahead of us and, as our brigade was 
second from the front, we could see the fire of our guns two fields 
beyond. The surgeons hastily turned aside in the woods, 
selected a place for a division hospital, and soon the wounded 
began to come in. We had from fifteen to twenty wounded, 
none killed ; buried five rebels. A spent ball struck Captain 
Jackson on his sword plate, which doubled him up a little while, 
but he was not badly hurt. All the wounded were of the First 
Brigade. General French was riding some distance ahead of the 
column ; one of his orderlies in advance, was fired on first when 
the General turned back and ordered the 10th Massachusetts 
Battery into position, stood by them, and ordered them not to 
fire until he gave the word. It was a force of dismounted cavalry ; 
he waited till they neared the battery when at his order there 
was poured into the enemy a volley of grape and canister. Then 
the First Brigade charged and the Rebs took to their heels. 
The Second corps coming up to us, coolly turned into the woods 
and commenced getting supper, while we moved on with a line 
of flankers marching on our left through the fields. We staid at 
Greenwich all night and had hardly commenced moving on 
Wednesday morning the 14th, before heavy firing was heard in 
pur rear, apparently just where the Second corps had staid all 



CENTKEVILLE CAMPAIGN. 227 

night. We passed rapidly on over Bull Run at Blackburn's Ford, 
and halted at Centreville about 6 p. m. devoutly thankful to the 
Great Deliverer for his preserving care. We felt our fare to be 
sumptuous, although it was but boiled beans and pork. Centre- 
ville is a very high position. Prisoners say Lee's army is 
larger than ours, and that he is bound to have Washington this 
time. . You may imagine what we have to guard when I 
tell you that thirty-one miles of wagon train were parked on 
Wednesday at Warrenton Junction." 

On Thursday morning, the 15th, it became very evident that 
our army was as near Washington as General Meade intended it 
should go. At an early hour a defensive line for the entire army 
was selected and the troops began to move hither and thither, to 
the positions which had been assigned them. Our division moved 
about -two miles to the left of where we had spent the night 
and encamped in line near Fairfax Station. During the day 
our old commander, General Sickles, paid us a visit and was 
received with shouts of welcome which must have convinced him 
that he was held in high regard by the officers and men who had 
fought under him at Chancellorsville and Gettysburg. Toward 
evening our division was called upon to witness the shooting of 
a deserter from the 5th Michigan — a scene so terrible that 
I will not attempt to describe it. 

General Lee having signally failed in his grand turning 
movement, not disposed to make a direct assault on our unusually 
strong lines about Centreville, and finding his own position, so far 
from his base, becoming extremely hazardous, began on the 18th 
a retrograde movement. Meade of course started after him. 

Early Monday morning, October 19th, our division struck 
tents and moved southward again, following in the wake of ;i por- 
tion of our cavalry corps which came up with and engaged the 
enemy's rear guard at Bristoe Station. But before we reached 
that point, which was fifteen miles from our starting place near 
Centreville, the affair was over and the enemy several miles 
away- We encamped that night within sight of the station. 

On the 20th, we started forward with the rising of the sun, 



22'S HISTORY OF THE 124TPI NEW IOEK VOLUNTEERS. 

but were detained several hours at the crossing of a stream called 
Broad Run, which flowed within a mile of where we had spent' 
the night. After that we marched first one way, and then the 
other, passed over the battle field of the day before, saw a con- 
siderable number of dead horses and new made graves, and about 
4 o'clock bivouacked one mile south of Greenwich. 

On the 21st, we resumed the march at 8 a. m., and after 
moving at a rapid gait for ten miles found ourselves at Catlett's 
station, where we were halted, as we believed for dinner. But 
about 2 o'clock were conducted to a camping ground in an open 
field which sloped gently westward to a little stream, and ordered 
to pitch our tents in regular order. Meade had resolved to give 
over his pursuit of Lee, and encamp in that vicinity until he could 
rebuild some twenty miles of the Orange and Alexandria Bail- 
road, which Lee's army had destroyed ; for it was over that 
road that our supplies were sent to us. 

Picket duty grew unpopular with the approach of winter, 
and it was wonderful to what an extent our sick list would be 
suddenly lengthened on the slightest rumor that an order detail- 
ing the 124th for picket had reached camp. This was especially 
the case when the heavens indicated that a storm was brewing. 
The boys I have no doubt usually argued the matter with them- 
selves in this wise " Well I — I really don't feel first rate, and if 
I am not actually sick now, ten to one I would be if I had to 
stand out in the cold or rain all night, and if I can fool the doctor 
-and get excused, I'm going to do it." How often our wise Sur- 
geon Thompson or little Doctor Montfort were actually fooled 
into believing a man was about to be stricken down with typhoid, 
small-pox or some other terrible malady before they became thor- 
oughly acquainted with the wonderful and varied symptoms of 
that so hard to be treated disease called the " shirks," that at 
times raged to a fearful extent among a class of soldiers called 
" dead beats," I am not prepared to state. However, picket 
duty had to be performed summer and winter, night and day, 
rain or shine, and the 124th always did its full share of it, and 
did it welL 



CENTKEVILLE CAMPAIGN. 229 

On the afternoon of the "25th of October, the regiment having 
just returned from a three days' tour on the outer lines, went to 
a neighboring wood for arms full of fresh pine feathers to replenish 
their beds, and made unusually extensive preparations for a com- 
fortable night's rest; but soldiers above all others never know 
what an hour will bring forth. Just after dark that evening 
orders came to strike tents and get the regiment in line. When 
this was done we stacked arms, and after shivering about the 
stacks for an hour or more, formed line again and in obedience 
to orders from brigade head-quarters advanced about twenty rods, 
to a muddy flat where we were directed to form column by divis- 
ion and make ourselves comfortable. 

It was one of those damp cold nights on which, let one do 
what he may standing or lying on the wet ground in the open 
air, he cannot keep his teeth from chattering or his limbs from 
shaking. Morning came at last. Many had walked about all 
night. Several officers of our brigade who happened to have 
some liquor with them had made themselves what is by some 
called " gloriously happy," and by others termed " beastly drunk." 
The majority, however, had rolled themselves in their blankets 
and lain down at their posts, resolved to make the best of their 
situation. Very few of our number had closed their eyes in sleep 
and when reveille was sounded, all were tired and sore. 

After breakfast we were directed to move back to our old 
grounds and put up our tents again. Why we had been ordered 
to pull them down, and leave our camp fires, and beds of boughs 
which were spread on a comparatively dry hillside, and move 
down to and spend the night on that cheerless, wet muddy flat, 
was a mystery not one of our number could solve, and I trust 
the good Lord turned a deaf ear to the curses which were pro- 
nounced against those who were supposed to have caused it. 

At the first approach of darkness that evening all hands 
except a small camp guard — but three of whom were required to 
remain awake at a time — turned in ; but our sleep was of short 
duration, for about 10 o'clock marching orders came, attention 
was sounded, and at 11 o'clock we were moving southward again. 



230 HISTORY OF THE 124TH NEW YORK VOLUNTEERS. 

We pushed on at a rapid gait until about 1 a. m. when we were 
ordered to halt, and permitted to build fires and lie down about 
them for the remainder of the night. 

On the 27th we moved half a mile and encamped in an oak 
woods. We now learned that our division had come out as a 
sort of grand reserve to our picket line which had been advanced 
several miles, and was yet a quarter of a mile beyond us. 

On the 30th, another advance of the pickets was made and our 
division moved on and encamped in the open fields near Bealton 
Station. There was no water within half a mile of where our 
regiment lay, and we had to go twice that distance for wood. 
We however remained there until the 7th of November, when 
the railroad having been put in running order again, a general 
advance was ordered. 



KELLY'S FOKD. 231 



CHAPTER XIII. 

Kelly's Ford — Locust Grove — Mine Run. 

THE series of movements by which Lee forced Meade to fall 
back to Centreville, and then Meade compelled Lee to 
retire to the southern shore of the Rappahannock again, occupied 
the two armies for a period of between three and four weeks, 
and may be termed a campaign of skirmishes. Ten to fifteen 
rencounters between detached forces took place, but no engage- 
ment of sufficient magnitude or importance to be properly called 
a battle. 

Greeley, in commenting on the affair in his " American Con- 
flict," says, " Lee claims to have taken 2,000 prisoners during 
his dash across the Rappahannock , while our captures were 
hardly half so many In killed and wounded the losses were 
nearly equal — not far from 500 on either side. But the pres- 
tige of skill and daring, of audacity and success, inured entirely to 
the Rebel commander, who, with an inferior force, had chased 
our army up to Washington, utterly destroyed its main artery of 
supply, capturing the larger number of prisoners, destroyed or 
caused us to destroy valuable stores, and then returned -to his 
own side of the Rappahannock essentially unharmed ; having 
decidedly the advantage in the only collision which marked his 
retreat. Nettled by the hack which had been played upon him, 
Meade now sought permission to make an attempt, by a rapid 
movement to the left, to seize the heights of Fredericksburg ; 
but Hallock negatived the project." 

Whatever Meade's previous desires or intentions may have 
been, it is certain that on the morning of the 7th of November 
his army moved forward in two columns ; one of which — com- 
posed of the Fifth and Sixth corps, and commanded by the vet- 



232 HISTOEY OF THE 124TH NEW YORK VOLUNTEERS. 

eran Sedgwick — took the roads leading toward Rappahannock 
Station ; and the other, made up of the First, Second, and Third 
corps, under the immediate command of General French, pursuing 
a southeasterly course which led toward the fords several miles 
farther down the river. 

The Third corps, commanded by General Birney, had the 
advance of French's column, and our division, again under General 
Ward, led the corps. We left Bealton about 8 a. m., moved 
slowly and cautiously for an hour or two, and then pushed rapidly 
forward, and at 2 p. m. the head of the column was halted under 
cover of a piece of woods that skirted the north-eastern bank of 
the Rappahannock, at Kelly's Ford. 

As soon as General Ward's division was closed up, the 124th 
was ordered to support the 10th Massachusetts Battery, and 
moved with it to some high ground about thirty rods farther 
down the river, where the battery wheeled into position and 
unlimbered. From this commanding point we had an unob- 
structed view of the enemy's pickets whom we found, all un- 
conscious of immediate danger, lounging about, and pacing to and 
fro along the opposite shore. They seemed greatly surprised at 
our sudden appearance. We had however hardly reached the 
position assigned us before their bullets began to whistle through 
the air. One of the gunners was wounded at the very outset, 
and before the horses could be got back out of range two of 
them were hit. The supporting force, of course, found it con- 
venient to hug the ground, and no one complained of its being 
damp or cold. Some of our best shots crept out to the edge of 
the bluff, and with deliberate and effective aim opened a counter 
fire. 

An open plain stretched back from the enemy's picket line, on 
the banks of the river, to a piece of woods about a quarter of a mile 
beyond. Presently a regiment of Confederates moving in column 
at a double-quick emerged from this woods, and our battery was 
immediately turned upon them. The two first shells passed over 
their heads but the third struck and exploded in the very centre 
of their column, literally tearing it in two. Their colors went 



KELLY'S FUEL. 233 

down, and where they had floated there first appeared a little 
cloud of smoke filled with dark flying spots, and then a huge gap 
was seen in their ranks. But almost immediately their flag re- 
appeared and the gap was closed ; then, quickening their pace to 
a run, the brave southerners hurried forward in an oblique direc- 
tion across our front, to the support of the pickets and a regiment 
of comrades posted at the Ford. But they were too late to be of 
any avail ; for in the meantime a powerful skirmish line com- 
posed of the United States Sharp-shooters and 20th Indiana of 
our brigade, supported by De Trobriand's five regiments (the 
3d and 5th Michigan, 110th Pennsylvania, 40th New York, and 
17th Maine) moving in battle line, had plunged into the stream, 
waded across under a galling fire, and with a determined charge 
carried the rifle pits on the southern shore, capturing the force 
posted behind them ; and were now advancing across the plain 
against these new comers. As soon as the Confederate comman- 
der comprehended the situation of affairs at the ford, he halted his 
column and began to deploy in a battle line that faced his advanc- 
ing foes , but in doing so exposed a flank to our guns which 
sent shell after shell raking down his half formed lines, and soon a 
deadly fire from our skirmishers struck them in front. — At this 
juncture a Confederate battery opened from a distant wood on 
De Trobriand's supporting line.— Faster, and yet faster, the shell 
hurled from our battery fell among them, and on, on, pushed our 
skirmishers — look ! look ! the Confederates are giving ground. 
Hear that charging shout from De Trobriand's men and see them 
run ? What a line they keep. Good ! good ! there go the sharp- 
shooters — they don't intend to let the third brigade run over them 
and get that Confederate flag. — " Give them two more shots, and 
then cease firing," shouts the commander of our battery, and lo ! 
another shell explodes right among our brave foes, which seems 
to be that last straw which breaks the camel's back. They can 
endure no more. Their never completed, and now terribly shat- 
tered line breaks in fragments ; and while the bulk of the surviv- 
ors, officers and privates, flee every man for himself toward the 
woods from whence they came, many throw themselves on the 



234 HISTORY OF THE 124TH NEW YORK VOLUNTEERS. 

ground which is already thickly strewn with their dead and 
wounded comrades, and surrender to our skirmishers who are 
soon upon them ; and Kelly's Ford is in undisputed possession 
of Ward's division, which soon collects in one body near the 
southern shore, the five hundred and odd prisoners it has cap- 
tured. — The Union loss in this affair was less than fifty, all told. 

" While the left column," says Swinton, (in his Campaigns 
of the Army of the Potomac,) was thus passing at Kelly's Ford 
the right wing was forcing a crossing against more formidable 
obstacles. The Confederates occupied a series of works on the 
north bank of the river at Rappahannock Station, which had been 
built some time before by the Union troops, and consisted of a 
fort, two redoubts and several lines of rifle trenches. These 
works were held by two thousand men belonging to Early's 
division of Ewell's corps. Commanding positions to the rear of 
the fort having been gained, heavy batteries were planted thereon 
and a fierce cannonade opened between the opposing forces. 
Just before dark, a storming party was formed of Russell's and 
Upton's brigades of the Sixth corps, and the works were carried 
by a very brilliant coup de main. Over fifteen hundred prisoners, 
four guns, and eight standards were taken. Sedgwick's loss 
was about three hundred in killed and wounded." 

As soon as Ward's division had established itself on the 
southern shore of the Rappahannock at Kelly's Ford, there was 
thrown across the river a pontoon bridge, which, all night long 
weaved and creaked beneath the roll of the huge clattering wheels 
of battery after battery, and the " tramp — tramp — tramp '' of an 
almost unbroken column of rapidly moving troops. Just after 
dark the guns which the 124th had been supporting were with- 
drawn, and the regiment passed over and bivouacked about half 
a mile beyond the Ford, near a little cluster of buildings called 
Kellysville. 

About 8 o'clock next morning (Nov 8) the advance was 
resumed. The Third corps marched first, with Ward's division 
in front. Our brigade led the division, and moved in battle line 
through the fields toward Brandy Station, with the 124th de- 



KELLY'S JOED. 235 

ployed as flankers. About noon we were halted for dinner, after 
which the Third division (better known to the men of the older 
regiments of the corps as " French's Pets ") moved past and took 
the lead. During the forenoon our advance was uninterrupted 
— not a Confederate was seen or heard from ; but as soon as the 
Third division moved to the front, a battery from a distant hill 
opened upon them, and bullets from unseen marksmen came 
whistling among them. The enemy's rear-guard retreated as the 
Union line slowly advanced. A brisk skirmish firing, emphasized 
occasionally by a bang ! bang I — bang ! bang ! from their artillery, 
was kept up all the afternoon. At dusk the " halt " was sounded 
and we bivouacked in the woods at Brandy Station. 

When we awoke Monday morning, November 9 th, the "heav- 
ens were dark and lowering, and the atmosphere was both damp 
and cold. About 5 p. m. we moved to another piece of woods, 
some two miles beyond the station, where on the morning of the 
10th we selected camping grounds and were notified that we 
would be allowed to put up winter quarters. The brush was 
soon cleared away and the men set to work building log walls 
for their muslin shelters, but there were only three or four 
axes in each regiment, and as no more could be either drawn from 
the quartermasters or borrowed from the engineers or supply 
trains, the work progressed but slowly 

On the evening of the 14th, a storm set in with thunder and 
lightning, and rain fell in torrents all night. But about 9 A. M. 
on the 15th, the heavens cleared again, and just as the sun 
appeared there came from off to our right the roaring, rumbling 
sound of distant artillery ; and all hands set to work picking up 
their traps, so as to be in readiness for prompt obedience to the 
order, "Fall in"; but fortunately it did not come. The can- 
nonading continued about half an hour and then died away, and 
the boys resumed work on their log cabins, which were not yet 
completed. 

On the 16th, there was a corps review, and on the 17th about 
half of our regiment moved out for a three days' picket tour on a 
portion of the line which ran very near the residence of the Hon. 



236 History or the 124TH new yokk volunteers. 

John Miner Botts, some of whose lean chickens (for which the 
Government afterwards paid him a wonderful big price) I am 
afraid, strayed altogether too near one of our reserves, on which 
Captain Travis with Lieutenant Charley Stewart, and the bulk of 
Company " I " were posted. At all events when I rode past there 
on the morning of the 18th, several feathers blew in my face 
and I noticed a number of others floating through the air. 

November 23d was a clear cold day and the boys kept rous- 
ing fires burning between the jambs of the new mud and wood 
chimneys of their log cabins, which were now about completed. 
At ten o'clock that evening marching orders reached us. About 
midnight a cold storm set in, but reveille was sounded from divis- 
ion and brigade headquarters at 4 a. m. ; and at six o'clock the 
men were directed to remove the wet muslin shelters which formed 
the roofs of their cabins, strap them to their knapsacks, and remain 
in readiness to fall in at a moment's notice; but as soon as every 
thing had become soaking wet, and every body was shaking and 
shivering, and the rain had put out nearly all the fires, an order 
came stating that the contemplated movement had been post- 
poned on account of the storm. 

The 25th was a clear bright day, the usual drills were omit- 
ted, and the men were allowed to remain in camp and dry their 
blankets and clothes, and fit up their tents again. But on Thanks- 
giving morning (Nov 20) the whole army was set in motion. 
Meade had resolved to move forward and offer battle to Lee, 
south of the Ilapidan, before he permitted the army of the Poto- 
mac to settle down for the winter. 

The First corps, followed by the Fifth, was ordered to march 
to the left and cross the river at Culpepper Mine Ford. The 
Second corps had the centre and was directed to pass over at 
Germania Ford. The Sixth corps was to follow the Third which 
was to move to the right and cross at Jacob's Ford. 

Reveille sounded at daybreak and the "strike tents "an hour 
later. For once our division — which was again under the imme- 
diate command of Major General Birney — moved behind both 
the Second and Third divisions, and it was nine o'clock before 



KELLY'S FORD. 23" 

"Ward's brigade was fairly under way Once started we marched 
at quick time for over two hours without a halt ; after that we 
moved by jerks, over a narrow road, cut through a dense forest. 
Just before dark we were ordered to file in among the trees, and 
eat our dinner; but the men had bai'ely time to start fires, and 
boil and drink their coffee, before the " forward " was sounded 
again. About 10 o'clock that night our brigade reached and 
crossed the Rapidan at Jacob's Ford and bivouacked on the 
southern shore. 

On the 27th we breakfasted before daylight, and at 7 a. m. 
the Third corps was off again ; Birney's command was left at the 
rear of the column, and Ward's brigade was the last to move. 
The Third division had the advance, and about 6 o'clock ran into 
what proved to be, the picket line of Johnson's division of Ewell's 
corps. The leading Union brigade was soon deployed and a brisk 
skirmish fire was opened. The column quickened its pace, and 
as brigade after brigade came up, they were hurried to the right 
and left through the brush and trees ; for we were ao,ain in the 
midst of one of those tangled forests which almost cover that vast 
weird region of Virginia, known as the Wilderness. As the line 
lengthened, the firing increased. Presently every brigade of the 
Third corps except ours had been thrown in, and General Ward, in 
obedience to orders, formed his command in column of regiments, 
and moved up to within thirty rods of the centre of the main 
line, and held himself in readiness to hasten to any point where 
assistance was needed. We soon threw ourselves on the ground 
and lay there undisturbed listeners to what was going on about 
us. At first we heard only brisk skirmish firing, but it spread 
and spread, until it seemed to come from all around us — front, 
flanks and rear. Presently we heard the sound of bugles and 
the shouts of officers ; then came the thunder of volley after vol- 
ley of riflei'y, followed by the booming of artillery. 

Hour after hour the din of battle continued ; but our brigade 
remained inactive until about 3 p. m., when the enemy was dis- 
covered to be massing in front of one of our batteries, which was 
posted on an advanced, but commanding and important position, 



238 HISTORY OF THE 124TH NEW YOKE VOLUNTEERS. 

in front of a gap in the right wing of our main line, and General 
Ward was directed to hasten thither and support it. We had 
just taken position behind these guns when the enemy made a 
most furious charge, driving back the Union line on both sides 
of us ; but our battery was handled in a masterly manner — its 
rapid discharges of grape told with fearful effect on that portion 
of the enemy's charging line in our immediate front, which soon 
broke and fled; and then, as the detached wings halted and 
began to waver, the Union troops who had been giving ground 
took courage and with a shout started forward on a counter- 
charge, and all that portion of the Confederate line in front of 
the Union right, fell back a considerable distance and took shelter 
behind a line of rifle pits, whither General French did not 
care to follow. 

After that for over an hour, we heard only an occasional 
artillery shot off to the right, and fitful skirmish firing along our 
front. But just as the sun went down the battle opened again 
and the crash of musketry, and thunder of artillery from either 
side of us soon became most terrific. Again I threw myself on 
the ground and listened ; endeavored to discover by the sound 
which way the tide of battle flowed, wondered who would rest as 
temporary victors on the field of that day's conflict, and what the 
morrow had in store for us ; for I was assured that only the 
Third corps was engaged on the Union side at that point, and 
regarded the fighting thus far, as but the prelude to another 
Chancellors ville or Gettysburg. 

Presently one of Birney's aids dashed up from the left shout- 
ing "A portion of the 1st brigade has been forced back, and the 
General wishes you to send your two best regiments to fill the 
gap." " Take the 124th and 86th New York," promptly replied 
General Ward, and before the words had barely escaped his lips we 
had filed from the column, and were hastening forward at a double- 
quick, to re-occupy a position from whiph the 17th Maine — one 
of the largest and best regiments in the army — had just been 
driven. We had been lying in an open field. It was almost 
dark, and as this staff officer, galloping ahead of us, led the way 



KELLY'S FORD. 239 

into a dense piece of woods, the gloom became most intense ; but 
guided by the powder flashes, which marked the Union line. of 
battle on either side of the black space we were directed to 
occupy, we groped our way to a point from which we could look 
through the opening and see the fire darting from the guns of a 
Confederate battery directly in front of it, and hear the shells they 
were hurling forth go tearing and crashing through the trees just 
ahead of us ; yet without a moment's delay we crept on, and soon 
became convinced that we were in more immediate danger from 
falling limbs, and flying splinters of wood, than from iron shell ; 
for the southern artillerymen had apparently lost the range and 
seemed to be firing at the tops of the trees. The 124th was in 
advance and soon reached and connected with the troops on the 
right of the gap, and after some little difficulty and confusion 
occasioned by stumbling over several dead bodies and stepping 
on two or three wounded men, for the ground was thickly strewn 
with both, we re-occupied the right half of the space which had 
been vacated by the 17th , then the 86th moved up and formed on 
our left, and the Union line was again intact. 

For a few moments all went well ; then we heard a rustling 
sound in front of us which instantly explained why the missiles 
from that battery were aimed so high ; and we opened fire on oui 
unseen foes, by sending such a volley down through the woods, 
as not only brought that advancing line to the ground, but drove 
the artillerymen from their guns. A moment later it seemed as 
if a swarm of huge fire-flies were rising from the earth about a 
hundred yards in front of us, and the air about us was suddenly 
filled with hissing sounds. Our men either sprang behind the 
trees, or threw themselves on the ground, but kept on firing as 
rapidly as they could. Presently the flashes from the enemy's 
rifles began to recede, and a few moments later that battery 
opened again, and three or four shells went screeching through 
the air just above our heads. Those who were lying down 
hugged the ground closer than ever, but the very first shell struck 
and burst right in front of the 86th, killing two of their brave 
boys, and wounding several others. We soon drove the artillery- 



240 HISTORY OF THE 124TH NEW YORK VOLUNTEERS. 

men from their guns again and endeavored, by concentrating the 
fire of a portion of our line in that direction, to keep them away; 
but ever and anon, our men — who hud nothing to guide their 
aim except the recollection of where the flash from the guns had 
been — would lose the range and the rebel gunners would spring 
to their pieces and hurl two or three shells among us. The most 
of these passed through or over the 86th, but occasionally one 
would explode above the 124th. The roar of riflery was inces- 
sant. This firing at one another in the dark lasted until about 
9 o'clock, when all the noises of battle ceased, and the remaining 
hours of the night wore quietly away Early the next morning 
we sent out skirmishers, but the enemy was not to be found, and 
before daybreak we were moving forward again. It soon com- 
menced raining and the roads became very heavy ; but we 
plodded on, without overtaking the enemy, until about 4 P. M. 
when, wet, tired and hungry, we halted for the night. An hour 
later the majority of our men were rolled in their blankets fast 
asleep. 

The losses of the 86th, in this affair were very severe — viz. 
four killed and thirty-two wounded — while ours, though the two 
regiments fought as usual side by side, were comparatively light. 
Several of our number were quite badly bruised by fallinglimbs and 
flying splinters, beyond which the following is a complete list of 

CASUALTIES OF 124TH AT LOCUST GEOVE, NOV 27, 1863. 

Private Thomas M. Brooks, Co. C Wounded Mortally. 

Jacob F Jordan, " H. " Severely. 

Corporal Theron Bodine, " H. .... .. " " 

Private Daniel Rider, " G " slightly. 

Cyrenius Giles, " G. .... 

J.S.Crawford, " F 

Oliver Miller, " G Killed or Captured. 

Corporal John J. Taylor, " G Captured. 

Private John B. Weymer, " D " 

We were under way at an early hour on the morning of the 
29th, but had not advanced more than two miles when we came 
upon the enemy in battle array, and evidently prepared to give 



LOCUST GROVE. 241 

us a warm reception. One who made a critical examination of 
the enemy's position thus describes it : 

"The Confederate line was drawn along a prominent ridge or 
series of heights, extending north and south for six or eight 
miles. This series of hills formed all the angles of a complete 
fortification, and comprised the essential elements of a fortress. 
The centre of the line presented four or five well defined facings 
of unequal length, occupying a space of more than three thousand 
yards, with such angles of defence that the fire of the enemy 
was able to enfilade every avenue of approach, while his right 
and left flanks were not less strongly protected. Stretching 
immediately in the rear and on the flanks of this position was a 
dense forest of heavy timber, while some twelve hundred yards 
in front was Mine Run — a stream of no great width, but diffi- 
cult for infantry to cross, from the marshy ground and dense 
undergrowth of stunted timber with which it was frequently 
flanked on either side, as well as from the abrupt nature of its 
banks. In addition to these natural defences, the enemy 
quickly felled in front of a large extent of his position a thick 
growth of pine as an abatis, and hastily constructed trenches and 
breastworks for infantry The position was, in fact, exceedingly 
formidable." 

It was the Sabbath-day, and nearly 9 a. m., when we suddenly 
emerged from a piece of woods through which we had been march- 
ing, and were halted on the open fields about a thousand yards 
east of Mine Run. For half an hour we stood there gazing off 
across the valley through which the stream ran, on the frowning 
heights beyond, and sweeping with our field glasses the long line 
of earth-works which crowned them. Then we moved a few rods 
to the right, filed into a piece of heavy timber and stacked arms. 

At 10 o'clock some of the boys declared they could hear the 
distant tolling of a church bell, and about the same time orders 
reached us from corps headquarters, to hold ourselves in readi- 
ness to form line of battle and move against the enemy's works. 
Then, suddenly, there settled down upon all a cloud of gloom; 
and a marked dread of what was to come, hitherto unknown in 



242 HISTORY OF THE 124TH NEW YORK. VOLUNTEERS. 

the 124th, seemed to take possession of every officer and man 
in our brigade. Laughing and even social conversation entirely 
ceased and the men sat and lay around under the trees in silent 
serious meditation. Presently prayer meetings were started here 
and there in all the regiments, and brave earnest prayers could 
be heard, ascending from every direction to the Grod of battles — ■ 
not so much for the protection and preservation of the gallant men 
there assembled as for the welftire of loved wives and dear little 
ones, who might ere another sun should set, be added to the already 
vast host of mourners scattered all over the land, and most gen- 
erally known as — shall I say, " The honored wards of a grateful 
country," or simply, " Dead soldiers' wives and children? " 

About noon it was rumored that our entire army was to move 
simultaneously against the enemy's works, and that a signal for 
starting would be given between the hours of 1 and 3 p. m. As 
One after another walked to the edge of the woods and looked 
off at the frowning heights covered with massive earth-works 
which completely concealed the foe from their view, many a 
brave, intelligent face turned pale ; but when at 2 p. m. the 
orders to " fall in " and " take arms," were given, the Sons of 
Orange County sprang to their places, and there was a man for 
every rifle; and as the "forward" was uttered there was some- 
thing in the precise, resolute movement of our line which said 
to me plainer than it could have been expressed by words, 
" Let come what may, you will have no occasion to blush because 
of the conduct of any member of the 124th to-day" 

After advancing about thirty rods, we were halted and 
ordered to stack arms again. The afternoon wore slowdy away 
The anticipated orders to move in force against the enemy's 
works were not issued and at night we lay down to sleep in the 
same piece of woods where we had spent the day. But about 
2 o'clock Monday morning, the 124 th and two or three other 
regiments of our brigade were aroused and ordered to the front, 
to relieve a line of pickets which had during the early hours of 
the night been pushed up to within 250 yards of the Confederate 
works. 



MINE RUN. 213 

We soon reached the run and crossed over without getting 
very wet, but many of the boj^s sank almost to their knees in 
the marshy ground beyond ; yet we pushed on, and at 3 o'clock 
reached the pickets we were sent to relieve, and lay down on the 
frozen ground they vacated. 

As morning dawned we could see the muzzles of guns pro- 
truding through embrazures in, and men's heads moving to and 
fro behind, the earth-works in front and above us. About 7 a. m. 
long Union battle lines began advancing over the cleared fields 
through the valley below and behind us; and a little later we 
received orders to bring up our reserves, form a skirmish line, and 
advance. Again men's faces grew pale, but no one faltered. 
Colonel Cummins directed me to take charge of the left wing that 
he might confine his attention to the five right companies, and 
shouting the order, " forward men, forward," hurried off to the 
right while I hastened toward the left centre. 

As the men sprang to their feet and began to advance, the 
enemy opened a most furious cannonade. Their works seemed 
covered with artillery As I moved past Company H, private 
Charley McGregor, of that company, was hit in the hip with a 
piece of shell and sprang several feet in the air, uttering as he 
did so a piercing, terrible screech, and fell to the ground almost 
across my path. Lieutenant Ramsdell was about the same time 
hit by a bullet from a sharp-shooter's rifle, and it was supposed 
mortally wounded ; but fortunately — as was the case with Cap- 
tain Jackson on the retreat to Centreville a few weeks before — 
his sword plate was just in the right spot, and (although he 
suffered severely afterward ) he was soon on his feet again. The 
Confederate infantry were reserving their bullets until we should 
get a little nearer, and their batteries were evidently firing at 
the battle line behind us, but the shell and shot passed so near 
our heads as to hurl several of our number to the ground. Once 
I thought the top of my own head was gone ; but, perhaps, I 
dodged just in time to save it ; at all events, when I put my hand 
up I found that my hat was gone ; but whether it was the sud- 
den rising of my hair, or the near approach of that cannon ball 



244: HISTORY OF THE 124TH NEW YORK VOLUNTEERS. 

that caused it to fall off (for there were no holes in it when I 
picked it up) I am unable to state positively 

We had not advanced more than fifty yards when an order 
to halt reached us, and we threw ourselves on the ground again. 
A few moments later, we were directed to retire to the point we 
had started from. The orders to assault the enemy 'fe formidable 
works had been countermanded, and about 9 a. m., our skirmish 
line fell back to within a hundred yards of Mine Run ; where we 
formed picket line again, posted our reserves in a piece of woods, 
and remained until evening. 

About noon, the grass on the hill side took fire some four hun- 
dred yards in front of us, and at a point near where McGregor 
had been carried and left for dead, and one of the videttes came 
in and reported that they could hear a voice, which sounded like 
Charley's, crying for some one to come and carry him off before 
the fire reached him. Volunteers were instantly called for to 
go out and bring in the poor fellow, no matter who he was. It 
was a hazardous undertaking, for the enemy's sharp-shooters 
would undoubtedly fire on anybody who should attempt to 
ascend the hill again ; but Corporal Duncan W Boyd, of Com- 
pany C, and two or three other big-hearted brave fellows whose 
names I am unable to recall, announced themselves as willing to 
hazard their lives at any time in efforts to prevent a wounded 
soldier's burning to death, let him be a friend or a foe. The 
enemy did fire on them, but they presently returned unscathed, 
carrying McGregor in a blanket. The poor fellow had re- 
covered consciousness some time before, and had lain there too 
weak from loss of blood to move a foot, and watched the fire creep 
toward him until, when succor came, it was not more than ten 
feet away His shattered limb was amputated that night, but he 
died the next morning. 

About 7 o'clock Monday evening, our regiment was relieved 
by a battalion of Vermont troops from the First corps, and we 
moved about an eighth of a mile farther to the left, where we 
were posted as a grand reserve in rear of Berdan's two regiments 
of sharp-shooters which remained on the outer line. 



MINE KUN. 245 

General Meade, it would seem, either never really intended 
making a direct assault on the enemy's works, as his Sunday's 
order indicated, or else becoming aware of the hopelessness of the 
undertaking the moment the enemy's strength was developed, he 
had wisely decided to abandon it. As soon as darkness set in, 
Tuesday evening, our army began a retrograde movement, and at 
day-break Thursday morning, December 3d, after an all night's 
march through the mud, the 124th shouting, " Thank the Lord," 
unslung their knapsacks, among the roofless log huts of their 
" Old camp ground " near Brandy Station. 

The weather during the last 24 hours of our stay at Mine 
Run was so extremely cold that "Many of the men who were on 
the picket line that day and the night before, were found, when 
the relief came round, dead at their posts, frozen."* 

On Monday afternoon, Major Generals French and Warren 
met, just in front of the picket reserve, where the left wing of 
the 124th was lying, and interchanged views regarding the situa- 
tion. I did not catch the drift of the conversation, but presently 
in reply to a remark of General Warren's, French turned his face 
toward the enemy's works, raised in his stirrups, and with his 
eyes blinking more rapidly than usual, replied " Thunder ! War- 
ren, it would be throwing your purse before swine," at which they 
wheeled their horses and rode off in opposite directions. Quite 
a number of our men had been entirely out of rations since the 
night before, and just after French and Warren had separated a 
rather fine looking steer came running through the woods and 
halted in the very spot on which the Generals had met ; but in 
less than half an hour his flesh, cut in several hundred strips and 
fastened to as many forked sticks, was broiling in front of little 
brush fires which had been suddenly started up all through the 
woods. About the same time several rubber blankets, full of 
flour, appeared from, nobody seemed to know where, and the 
boys had a right hearty meal. 

When Meade finally decided to return to his old camps north 
of the Rapidan, the Third corps was directed to move down the 

* See Dr. Geo. T. Stephens' Three years in the Sixth Corps, page 299, 



24:6 HISTORY OF THE 124TH NEW YORK VOLUNTEERS. 

Orange Turnpike about five miles, and then take a road which 
turned to the left and ran for about six miles through dense 
forests and struck the Rapidan at Culpepper Mine Ford, where 
we would find a pontoon bridge lain ready for us to cross on. 
It was nearly daylight when we reached this bridge, and as soon 
as the rear regiment of our column — which had for several miles 
been hard pressed by a body of Confederate cavalry — crossed 
over, a band at the Ford struck up, " Out of the Wilderness," 
and there went up a responsive " Amen ! " which would have 
done credit to the brethren at an Ocean Grove Camp Meeting. 

CASUALTIES OP 124TH AT MINE KEN, NOV 30, 1863. 

Private Charles A. Mc Gregor, Co. H .. .. .Killed. 

" Jacob F. Jordan, " H .. Wounded. 

John Edwards, " D. ... 

" Francis McMahon, " G 



T1VE MONTHS AT BKANDY STATION AND CULPEPPEK. 2i7 



F 



CHAPTER XIV 

FIVE MONTHS AT BKANDY STATION AND CULPEPPER. 

^ROM the close of the short and unfruitful Mine Run cam- 
paign, which ended on the first clays of December, 1 863, 
until the opening of the long and bloody Wilderness campaign, 
which began on the first days of May, 1864, the two grand 
armies contented themselves with frowning at each other from 
the opposite banks of the Rapidan, making three or four weak 
feints, and preparing for the stern work which followed. 

The 124th, on its return to Brandy Station, settled down in 
the camp it had Aoicated a week before, and after a few days had 
been spent in repairing and fitting up the log cabins in which we 
now expected to spend the winter, we took up again the routine 
duties of camp life, and barring the unusual number of bitter cold 
days spent on the picket line, the winter passed more pleasantly 
than we had any reason to expect it would. 

The verbatim extracts from diaries kept during the period 
referred to, by members of the regiment other than myself, of 
which this short chapter is in part made up, will, I have no doubt, 
give my readers a more correct idea of some of the phases of 
soldier life when the army is resting, than I could in any other 
way convey to them. Lieutenant Charles Stewart's diary for the 
month of December, 1863, contains the following. 

" Thursday, Dec. 'id — Reached our old camp at daybreak, 
foot-sore and tired out. Went to bed early, but about 9 o'clock 
the bugle sounded "strike tents " and we had to get up and tear 
down our houses. After forming on the color line and waiting 
there an hour, the order was countermanded and we lay down 
again but without fixing up tents. 

"Friday, Dec. 4th — Still played out. sore from head to foot. 



248 HISTORY OF THE 124TH NEW YORK VOLUNTEERS. 

The regiment was formed at noon to witness the execution of 

Private ■ ■ of Company B, sentenced to be shot for 

desertion.* After dress parade we stretched our tents over the 
roof poles of our log cabins again, and with a good fire, spent a 
comfortable evening. 

" Saturday, Dec. hth — Had one good night's rest in our com- 
fortable house, but about 1 p. m. that confounded strike tents 
sounded again. The brigade was got together in an adjacent 
field where we stacked arms and rested for two hours; after 
which each regiment formed on its own color line, stacked arms 
there and kept themselves in readiness to fall in at a moment's 
notice till 8 o'clock, when the order came to unpack knapsacks 
and make ourselves comfortable for the night. The night was 
bitter cold and as we had no tents up we could not be comfortable. 

u Sunday, Dec. Qth — -Passed a very disagreeable night on 
account of the cold — was glad when daylight came. After 
breakfast the wind rose and our fire smoked so I hat we had to 
let it go out. Charley Thayer took dinner with us. Had let- 
ters from home in the evening, and a notice that I had to go on 
brigade saiard in the mornimr. 

" Thursday, Dec. 10th — No drills to-day to disturb the [dans 
of any body The weather is fine and the boys are busy fixing 
up their winter quarters. We have made some improvements 
on ours to-day It is reported that General Thomas has suc- 
ceeded Meade and is now in command of this army. All hands 
are keeping a sharp lookout for the paymaster 

11 Friday, Dec. llth — An order was read at dress parade 
stating that furloughs would now be "ranted to a limited number 
of officers and enlisted men. Only three line officers and five 
enlisted men allowed to be absent from our regiment at a time. 
Half of this company (i) sent in applications during the evening. 

"' Monday, Dec. lith — Ramsdell received his discharge and 
left us this morning, and Lieutenant Sayer was assigned to the 
command of his company (C). Colonel Cummins and Captains 

* Execution did not take place — sentence commuted by President, to confinement 
at Fort Jefferson, Florida, 



FIVE MONTHS AT BRANDY STATION AND CULPEPPER. 2±9 

Benedict and Jackson, got furloughs and left for home on the 
6 P. M. train. Boys spent the greater part of the day cleaning up 
camp. Weather blustery with showers. 

" Tuesday, Dec. 15th — Beautiful spring-like weather — clean- 
ing camp is still the order of the day — Hear that the paymaster 
has arrived and will commence with the 4th Maine in the morn- 
ing. We have our pay rolls signed and every body is ready to 
receive his greenbacks. Sergeant Chandler and four others have 
received furloughs and will start for home in the morning-. 

" Thursday, Dec. 17th — Last night was very stormy — this 
morning no better. Our house leaks all over, and our chimney 
works badly, which makes things rather uncomfortable. 

" Friday, Dec. 18th — Paymaster has been shelling out green- 
backs to us nearly all day — Dr. Montfort received a special leave 
of absence. 

" Saturday, Dec. 19th — Very cold and wintry — strong wind 
and heavy frost. The regiment ordered out for inspection at 
1 p. M. This was a cold job, but did not last long. 

" Sunday Dec. 20th — No duty of any kind to-day but dress 
parade in the afternoon. Still very cold. 

"Monday, Dec. 21st — One hundred and fifty men detached 
from our regiment for picket. Captain Travis to act as field 
officer of the day. I remained in camp but have been detailed 
to go on guard in the morning. 

" Wednesday, Dec. 23d — Received a box from home to-day, 
with a good assortment of delicacies to pass the Christmas with." 

" Friday, Dec. 25th — Spent a pretty good Christmas. The 
Colonel and Captains Benedict and Jackson, returned from fur- 
lough — a whiskey ration was issued to the regiment and a num- 
ber of the boys feel good. 

" /Saturday, Dec. 26th — Very dull in camp to-day- Quite a 
number are keeping very quiet and trying to sleep off the effect 
of yesterday 

'"Sunday, Dec. 27th — The same old camp Sabbath — no 
inspection — no drill — no work, but in other respects the same 
as other days. 



250 HISTORY OF THE 124TH NEW YORK VOLUNTEERS. 



"Monday, Dec. 28th — Wet and disagreeable. Have to hug 
the fire very close to keep at all comfortable. 

" Wednesday, Dec. 30th — Major Weygant, with Captains 
Travis and Wood, Adjutant Van Houten and Chaplain Bradner, 
received furloughs and started for home on the 10 o'clock train 
this morning. 

" Thursday, Dec. 31st — Very wet and stormy, in consequence 
of which we were mustered by companies in front of the Colonel's 
tent. After retiring I was hauled out of my bed by Quarter- 
master Post who made me go to his tent, where was a party 
waiting to see the old year out and the new year in." 

The morning report of the 124th, for Dec. 30th, 1863, shows 
the strength of the regiment as follows : 



Present for duty.. 

" on extra duty. 

" sick 

" in arrest. 

Absent on detached service. 

" with leave. 

" sick and wounded. 

" without leave. 

" in arrest. 



.22 officers and 261 enlisted men. 
" 8 
" 7 
" 1 
3 " " 35 
1 " "8 
1 " " 189 
" 1 
2 



Total present and absent 29 " "512 

The diary of Sergeant Thomas Taft, of Company C, for the 
month of January, and first half of February, 18b'4, contains 
the following : 

" Friday, Jan. 1st, 1864 — It ceased raining about 8 a. m., 
cleared off very cold — freezing fast. Had pudding for our New 
Years dinner — ingredients, flour, dried apples and molasses. 

" Saturday, Jan. 2d — Coldest night we have had this year — 
made ice thick enough to bear a man's weight. The regiment 
started for picket line under command of Captain Jackson at 
9 o'clock this morning. The picket line is five miles from camp ; 
the roads are rough and very rutty, and it took us until 12 o'clock 
to get there. I go on post near Mrs. Pendleton's house, which is 
two miles northwest of Culpepper Court-house. 

" /Sunday, Jan. 3d — Very cold, commenced snowing at 4 p. M. 

"Monday, Jan. Mh — Went back to the grand reserve last 



FIVE MONTHS AT BRANDY STATION AND CULPEPPER. 251 

evening, and came out to the old post again this morning and 
remained all day It snowed all last night and there were two 
inches of snow on the ground this morning. The commissary 
sergeant brought us our two days' rations of soft bread, 
sugar coffee and fresh meat. We captured a contraband trying 
to run the picket line. He says we can do anything we have 
a mind to with him, if we will only let him live. The poor 
" dark " has evidently been taught to believe that we are all 
cannibals. 

" Tuesday, Jan. 5th — Cold as ever. Relieved at 12 o'clock 
by the 86th New York, and a detachment from the sharp-shoot- 
ers. The march back to camp over the frozen ground was very 
severe and about used me up. It snowed some this afternoon. 

" Wednesday, Jan. 6th — Very cold. Ground still covered 
with snow. We have to carry our firewood about a mile. Have 
been busy all day writing up company books. The sun came 
out at 11 o'clock, but it did not thaw much and at 4 p. m. began 
to grow cold again. 

" Friday, Jan. 8th — Snow four inches deep and yet falling. 
A funeral in the 4th Maine — ' died of fever.' 

" Saturday, Jan. 9th — Wash day Got clothes all washed 
by 12 o'clock. Our division has been ordered to change camp. 
Drew three days' rations of salt pork and fresh beef, coffee and 
sugar. Expect to start for our new camp in a day or two. 

" Sunday, Jan. Idth — Company inspection by Lieutenant 
Sayer. Dress parade by Major Weygant, who with Captains 
Wood and Travis, and Lieutenant Van Houten, returned from 
furlough last night. 

u Monday, Jan. 11th— Very cold night. Bugle blew for 
roll call at 4 a. m. One hundred and twenty-five men detailed 
from our regiment for picket. They started for the picket line 
at 7 o'clock. Have been busy all day making out our company 
ordnance returns, for Lieutenant Sayer — or rather Captain Sayer, 
for he was mustered to that grade this afternoon. Moving camp 
has been postponed until Friday, when we are to go two miles 
out, near Culpepper, where wood is plenty. 



252 HISTORY OF THE 124TH NEW YORK VOLUNTEERS. 

"Friday, Jan. 15th — Commenced moving camp yesterday 
morning. Officers' traps and baggage were taken over first, and 
then the wagons came for ours. I got some of my tent logs 
carried over and have cut and split enough more to make our 
tent seven logs high. 

"Saturday, Jan. lQth— Got to work on our tents at day- 
light, up to our eyes in mud and dirt. Got our tent nearly all 
plastered and chimney nearly completed. Our camp is situated 
on a hill — well wooded. Any quantity of oak and hickory close 
at hand. 

" Sunday, Jan. 17th — We put up bunks in our tent to-day. 
The ground was very damp to sleep on. The snow is about all 
gone. Received orders from adjutant to send in names of all 
men in company who have not been vaccinated. 

" Saturday, Jan. 23d — Two hundred men from our regiment 
went out on picket this morning under command of Captain Sdli- 
man, who returned from Riker's Island and resumed command of 
our company on the 29th. 

" Monday, Jan. 25th — A lady rode past our camp to-day, all 
the boys turned out to see her. 

" Tuesday, Jan. 2Qth — Picket detail returned to-day Re- 
ceived our new flag. Had dress parade at 3 o'clock — both colors 
out, the old and new, side by side. We saluted them, and then 
gave three cheers, first for the old and then for the new. * 

* The following communication from the donors was read to the regiment and 
received with vociferous applause. 

To the Officers and men of the 124*/* Regiment N. Y Vols.— The Daughters of 
Orange, having heard that the colors they presented to you at the time of your 
organization have been impaired in battle, take great pleasure in substituting new 
ones. Please regard them as renewed tokens of their high appreciation of your ser- 
vices as a regiment, and as a pledge of their desire to have their interests in tins con- 
test identified with your own. You can hardly be expected to know how large a place 
you have in our hearts, how sincere our regard and sympathy, or the great interest we 
have in the records of the brave American Guards. Continue to keep them unsullied 
and to make for us such a history as we may be proud to deposit with the archives of 
our country. You have already won a name for courage and efficiency in battles, for 
fortitude and endurance in wearisome marches — a name that can be still more exalted, 
if, after having stood the test of intrepid soldiers, you can add to it the crowning 
virtues of patience and endurance to the end. — Your diminished numbers tell elo- 
quently what you have already suffered since you left us under the leadership of the 



FIVE MONTHS AT BEANDY STATION AND C DLPEPF Eli. 253 

" Wednesday, Feb. ?>d — An order was read at dress parade 
stating that until further orders on the subject we are to have 
company drill in the morning, battalion drill in the afternoon, 
and brigade drill once a week. Captain Silliman received his 
commission this morning as Colonel of the 26th U. S. Colored 
Regiment. 

" Thursday, Feb. Mil — Captain Silliman gave the officers of the 
regiment a farewell supper. They all assembled in Captain 
Jackson's tent at 8 p. m. and had a jovial time, I should judge, 
from the noise they made. 

" Friday, Feb. 5th — The Captain requested me to form com- 
pany without arms this morning, and when I had done so he 
made us a short address, and shook hands and bid us good-bye ; 
as he moved away we gave three hearty cheers for Colonel 
Silliman." 

Toward the close of January, General Butler — then command- 
ing the Department of Virginia and North Carolina — having 
learned that Richmond had been stripped of its garrison for the 
purpose of reinforcing General Picket's command, which was 
operating in North Carolina, decided to attempt to capture the 
Confederate Capital by making a sudden dash on it by way of 
New Kent Court-house, with a strong column of cavalry 

On the 4th of Febauary, General Butlers raiding column, under 
the immediate command of Brigadier General Wister, reached 
New Kent Court-house, and General Sedgwick who was in tem- 
porary command of the Army of the Potomac, was instructed 

able and bold Colonel Ellis. Send us back tbeold and revered flag that it may be 
placed with the cherished mementoes of your lamented commander and his immortal 
braves. Its tarnished hues will affect to sadness, those who beheld it unfurled and in 
his hand held aloft on the day of its presentation, when he declared if he did not 
bring it back we might rest assured that the arm that held it, would be palsied in 
death. Return it to tell us of Gettysburg, and of the faithful, undaunted men, who 
followed it with the offerings of their lives, amid the strife and carnage of battle ; or 
beneath its folds have shouted victory over our foes. We will continue to hold in 
grateful remembrance not only the dead, but the disabled and scarred survivors. Be 
assured that you, upon whom rests the future, have no public friends more anxious 
for your unblemished reputation and honor, or more deeply solicitous for your welfare 
than the 

Daughters of Orange. 



254: HISTORY OP THE 124TH NEW YORK VOLUNTEERS. 

by the authorities at Washington, as a diversion in favor of But- 
ler's enterprise, to make a demonstration across the Rapidan. 

The bulk of our cavalry and the Third corps were selected 
for this purpose. During the night of the 5th the cavalry moved 
forward and on the morning of the 6th the Third corps started 
after them. 

Reveille was sounded in our brigade at half past four o'clock 
and at seven we were ready to start ; but about 8 o'clock it com- 
menced raining and we did not leave camp until 3 p. M. Then 
we moved through the rain and mud to an open field about a 
mile away, where the division was ordered to assemble, and 
stacked arms. After remaining there about half an hour, during 
which we heard heavy artillery firing from the direction of the 
Rapidan, we started forward and after marching about five miles 
bivouacked for the night without partaking of a warm cup of 
coffee, for we were unable to find wood to build fires with. The 
blankets and clothes of the boys were so wet they could not 
sleep, and all felt relieved when at 4 o'clock Sunday morning the 
buglers sounded reveille again. It had stormed hard all night 
and the rain was yet falling, but at daybreak we started forward 
again. The mud was so deep we could scarcely wade through 
it, and when at mid-day we halted for dinner, we had made but 
four miles. Our cavalry and a force of the enemy which was 
opposing their advance, kept up a terrible racket, with both 
artillery and small arms, until about 1pm. when the din of the 
battle died away At 2 o'clock we countermarched and moved 
back about a mile to a piece of woods. The rain meantime ceased 
falling, and the sun came out bright and warm. As soon as we 
reached the woods the men unrolled their blankets and spread 
them on the ground and branches of trees to dry, and began cut- 
ting pine boughs to sleep on, for we all expected to spend the 
night (here. But about 4 p. m. orders came to move back to camp. 
Then hour after hour, we plodded on through mud almost knee 
deep, and just after midnight reached our tents again, all covered 
with dirt and completely worn out ; yet at early daylight next 
morning more than half the regiment had to start off on a fivu 



FIVE MONTHS AT BEANDY STATION AND CULPEPPEL. 255 

mile march, through the mud again, to the picket lines. I rode 
out with the poor fellows as, " Brigade officer of the pickets," 
and will copy a note or two from my diary concerning that tour 
of duty 

" Wednesday, Feb. 10th — The dividing of the reserve into 
reliefs last night, so that a part might sleep while the balance 
remained ready for duty, was a useless task, for it was so damp 
and cold that no one was able to sleep. 

" Thursday, Feb. Wth — I lay down quite early under my 
little tent at the picket reserve last evening, but the cold was 
so intense I could not sleep, and soon got up and spent the night 
sitting on a cracker box by a smoking log fire, around which I 
kept moving, first one way and then the other, to keep out of range 
of the strong pine smoke which almost eats one's eyes out." 

This was my last three days picket tour. On the 17th of 
February Lieutenant Colonel Cummins became full Colonel, and 
I was mustered as Lieutenant Colonel — having held a commis- 
sion of that grade since Oct. 10th, 1863 — and my name was 
thereupon transferred from the roll of picket officers, to that 
from which division officers of the day were drawn. My first 
detail for duty in the latter capacity was received on the morn- 
ing of February 23d, when, on proceeding to the picket line, I 
relieved Colonel Moses Lakeman of the 3d Maine, and was in 
turn relieved the next day by Lieutenant Colonel Walker of the 
17th Maine. 

The headquarters of our division officers of the picket was, 
at that time, at what was known as the Thomas House. Mr. 
Thomas was an old man, unfit for military service, and though at 
heart a secessionist, was nevertheless a courteous gentleman. 
His wife was a delicate, proud-looking old lady, but like her hus- 
band was respectful and accommodating. These old people hav- 
ing been deprived of other means of support, were glad to have 
served up in their house, to the officers of the day and the staff 
officers who frequently accompanied them, such articles of food 
as Mr. Thomas was able to procure from our commissaries and 
sutlers, and from the officers themselves — for which, of course, he 



256 HISTORY OP THE 124TH NEW YORK VOLUNTEERS. 

was always paid most liberally The Thomases had two sons and 
several sons in law, but they were all in the Rebel army and their 
wives remained within the Confederate lines. There was, however, 
living with the old people at the time, a distant relative of the 
family who before the war had been a school-mistress. She was 
a bitter little Rebel, not more than twenty years of age, and I had 
frequently heard Colonels Lakeman and Cummins speak of her 
as "Jennie of the Picket line." 

After relieving Colonel Wakeman I rode along the line, with 
which I^was already quite familiar, and about 1 p. m., returned 
to this house, delivered my horse to a guard who stood waiting 
for him, and walked into a large front room which had been 
given up by the family to the exclusive use of the division 
officers of the day There was a large old-fashioned fire-place 
in one end of this room, in which a bright log fire was blazing. 
When I entered, two or three members of a permanent guard 
which had been stationed at this house, and who had been in 
fixing the fire and warming themselves, walked out and I was 
alone. The room was uncarpeted, and the only furniture it con- 
tained was a large square pine table, half a dozen wooden bot- 
tomed chairs and several three legged stools. I drew one of the 
chairs up to the fire and, after warming my feet, lit a cigar and 
settled back for a smoke. Presently I heard a slight knock and 
a door opening behind me, and turning suddenly around saw the 
young lady referred to walking slowly toward where I was sit- 
ting ; but the moment she saw my face she came to a halt, threw 
up her hands slightly as if surprised, asked to be excused and 
said she had been informed that the colonel — or rather the Lieu- 
tenant colonel of the 124th New York Yankee regiment was 
there. I immediately arose, told her that the information she 
had received was correct, and offered her a chair. She declined 
being seated and asked " Will he be in soon ? " " lie is in 
now," 1 replied with sober face and a polite bow. " Ah ! " said 
she, " but you are not the person ; perhaps there are two of i/onr 
regiments called the 124th New York — or do you have two lieu- 
tenant colonels to a regiment V " u Only one lieutenant coloae,' 



J o 



FIVE MONTHS AT BBANDY STATION AND CULPEPPEE. 257 

to a regiment, and only one New York regiment of that number 
in our army that I am aware of, Madam," I replied. " You sir 
are certainly not the person I was led to suopose was here," 
came in a sharp quick tone, and " Miss Jennie of the Picket 
line " wheeled in a pert manner, and was about to leave the 
room ; but I stopped her with a '• Pray madam may I be allowed 
to ask what sort of a looking person he is for whom you are in- 
quiring ? " " Well," she answered, drawing her face in a most 
comical shape, " he is not very handsome, to be sure, but " — her 
features now straightened to a severe and contemptuous expres- 
sion, and she looked me square in the eyes — "he is a jolly good 
hearted old gentleman who would scorn to insult a lady like that 
horrid Colonel Lakeman * who left here this morning; or to lie 
to a lady like another Yankee officer I have seen lately I came 
to this room to ask Colonel Shiloh f — that's his name — if he 
would soon be ready for dinner." I then explained to this 
southern lad?/ that her good hearted jolly old friend now wore 
eagles, and that I had mustered to the rank of lieutenant colonel 
in his stead. I also asked her if she had any objection to put- 
ting to me the same question she had intended to ask him. She 
replied that she had not, but an hour passed before dinner 
was announced, and then I did not have the pleasure of her 
company at the table. 

Just after dinner, I was informed that two ladies desired to 
go through the picket line, and rode out to examine their pass. 
They were well dressed, intelligent appearing young persons and 
were mounted on a pair of poorly groomed but fine bred animals. 
Accompanying them was a middle aged mulatto woman seated on 
a clumsy looking farm horse and carrying in front of her a large 
basket filled with bundles. They had refused to deliver their 
pass to a lieutenant who had charge of a section of the line 
through which the road they were pursuing ran, but as soon as 

* Colonel Lakeman had that morning, I was informed, in answer to an insulting slur 
on Yankees in general, called Miss Jennie's attention to a sow with a litter of pigs, say- 
ing, " allow me to point out to you a family of the genuine F F. Vs. of Virginia." 

f Colonel Cummins had participated in the battle of Shiloh or Pittsburg Landing, 
and was frequently addressed in a familiar way by his cronies as " Old Shiloh," 



25S HISTORY OF THE 124TH NEW YORK VOLUNTEERS. 

I rode up they handed it to me, remarking, " This gentleman 
here wishes to take our pass from us ; and then how conld we 

pet through the line again and beside, Mr. Colonel , at your 

army head-quarters, said we might keep it until we could come 
there for a new one." The document referred to now lies be- 
fore me and reads as follows : 

Head-Quarters Abjivop the Potomac. Office Provost Marshal General, February 4, 1864. 

The bearers, Misses Payne and guard, have permission to pass from 
their home to Culpepper 0. H. for the purpose of making purchases and 
return. ' 

This pass will ) M. E. Patrick, 

expire Feb. 10 ) Provost Marshal General, Army of Potomac. 

I asked these ladies how often they had been through our 
lines on this pass, and they replied a Every day or two since we 
received it." " But, 1 ' I said, " it states on its face that it expires 
February 10th and it is now the 2od — I will be obliged to take 
it up." They protested very strongly against my doing so but 
finally rode away 

About noon on the 26th of February I received an order to 
report forthwith in person to General Birney at Division head- 
quarters. On arriving there I was placed in command of eight 
hundred men who had been detailed from the various regiments, 
and ordered to move out with them and relieve the Sixth corps 
pickets— that corps having been ordered to make, in conjunction 
with a brigade of cavalry under Custer, a demonstration against 
Lee's left. All sorts of rumors were rife, and it was believed by 
many that the spring campaign was about to open ; but the real 
object was simply to hold the enemy's attention while General 
Kilpatrick with a division of cavalry moved around their right 
flank and started off on a grand raid, which it was hoped might 
result in a temporary occupation cf Richmond and the release of 
our half starved prisoners confined there. 

I found the pickets I was sent to relieve stretched 
over a space six miles in length, and it was past nine 
o'clock before I reached the most distant post. Early the 



FIVE MOXTHS AT BRANDY STATION AND CULPEPPER. 2'>d 

following morning (Feb. 27), I was relieved and ordered to 
proceed to Brandy Station and take charge of a corps fatigue 
party which was being assembled there, but before I arrived 
they had been sent off under some one else. I then reported 
to General French, at Corps head-quarters near Culpepper, and 
was directed by him to return to my regiment, which he said 
was under marching orders. I reached our camp at noon, having 
had a morning's ride of about twenty miles. At 3 p. m. fifty 
men of our regiment, who had accompanied me to the relief of 
the Sixth corps pickets, came into camp and stated that they 
had been relieved at noon by men from the Third division of our 
corps. That evening we learned that Birney's division was to 
move out after the Sixth corps. More than half of the men and 
company officers of the 124th were out picketing on our own 
division line, but about two hours after midnight they returned 
to camp. 

Our regimental line was formed at 7 a. m. on the 28th, and 
we moved over to Division head-quarters where the three bri- 
gades were soon assembled, and at eight o'clock our division flag 
was seen moving away, and our brigade — with the 124th the 
third regiment from the head of the column — was the first to move 
after it. When we reached Culpepper the 14th Brooklyn, which 
was stationed there, turned out to salute us, and our division 
moved through the place at quick time with the regiments 
formed in column of companies, arms at a shoulder, banners fly- 
ing, and division band and regimental drum corps playing lively 
tunes. We soon reached and passed through our infantry picket 
line, after which we rested for about twenty minutes ; then fell 
in and started on again, moving at a rapid gait hour after hour, 
resting only five or six minutes at a time, until 3 p. m. when we 
reached and were halted at James Cit} r , on grounds where a di- 
vision of the Sixth corps had bivouacked the previous night. 

James City consists of three or four dilapidated, unpainted, 
dingy looking frame dwellings and a deserted, doorless blacksmith 
shop. The 28th was a rather pleasant day, but about 10 p. *\i. 
a rain storm set in. But few of the men had brought their tents 



260 HISTORY OF THE 124TII N i: W YORK VOLUNTiEES. 

with them and nearly all were pretty thoroughly soaked before 
morning. Sergeant Taft writes in his diary under date of Mon- 
day, Feb. 29th as follows : "When I awoke this morning I found 
that my blankets were all wet, and that I was lying in a pool 
of water. I slept so soundly that I was not aware it had been 



raining." 



The march was not resumed on Monday and the men spent 
a portion of the day building bough-houses to protect them from 
the storm, which seemed hourly to increase in severity As 
evening approached it became so cold that the rain changed to 
ice as it fell. But few had been able to dry their clothes, and 
nearly all spent a sleepless and most cheerless night. 

Tuesday afternoon (March 1st) a small drove of Confederate 
cattle were brought to our camp and shot. There was consider- 
able discussion among the men as to whether the chief object in 
slaughtering these cattle was, to prevent the poor animals starv- 
ing, or to furnish the troops with soup bones. During the day 
we heard considerable artillery firing in the direction of Madison 
Court House. Toward evening the rain gave place to snow, and 
the muddy ground was soon covered with a thin coating of white 
slush. The night was a little warmer than the previous one but 
we came far short of sleeping comfortably 

Wednesday morning (March 2) broke clear and cold. At 6 
A. M. we received orders to return to camp, and half an hour 
later were under way The roads were frozen quite hard when 
we started, but by 9 o'clock the sun's rays had drawn the 
frost from the ground and instead of walking on hard rough ruts 
the men sank at nearly every step, from three to ten inches in 
sticky, heavy mud. We however pushed on as rapidly as possi- 
ble, without halting to eat, or even to rest for more than two or 
three minutes at a time ; and before darkness appeared were in 
our log huts near Culpepper again — covered with mud, very 
hungry, and oh, how tired. 

Thursday was devoted to pounding and washing the dirt 
from our clothing and scouring the rust from our weapons ; after 
which we resumed our usual camp duties. 



FIVE MONTHS AT BRANDY STATION AND CULPEPPER. 261 

Early in March U S. Grant was made Lieutenant-General, 
and invested by the President with the chief command of all the 
armies of the United States. About the middle of the month he 
announced that until further orders on the subject, his headquar- 
ters would be with the Army of the Potomac in the field ; and 
the work of putting that army in the best possible condition for, 
what nearly every soldier in it believed was to be, a severer cam- 
paign than it had yet known, was forthwith begun in earnest, and 
was most vigorously prosecuted until the order, " Forward against 
the foe," was issued. 

We continued to spend about the usual proportion of our time 
on the picket lines ; but when in camp, large quantities of ammu- 
nition, and many an hour hitherto given to recreation, were by 
special orders expended in target practice and shooting at imagi- 
nary foes ; and drills, inspections, and reviews, became so fre- 
quent as to leave us but few leisure hours. The granting of short 
furloughs, however, was continued, and on a more liberal scale 
than usual ; and a considerable number of line and non-commis- 
sioned officers were detached from the veteran battalions and sent 
to their respective States on recruiting service. 

On the 12th March, a detail consisting of Captain Jackson, 
Lieutenant Charles Stewart, Sergeants Joshua V Cole, of " G," 
Joseph Alwood of " I," and four other enlisted men, whose 
names I am unable to recall, were sent to Orange County to 
see what could be done at home toward swelling the ranks of the 
124th. These parties, especially the Captain, left our camp evi- 
dently expecting that when they returned to the regiment they 
would have the pleasure of bringing with them to its depleted 
ranks a goodly number of brave volunteer recruits ; but our re- 
cord, it would appear, was already too bloody. Our long list of 
killed and wounded, when contrasted with the comparatively 
small number lost in battle by Congressman Van Wyck's regi- 
ment, the 10th Legion, which had entered the service nearly a 
year before the 124th, told most seriously to our disadvantage, so 
far as procuring recruits was concerned. " I find," wrote Capt. 
Jackson, about two weeks after he had reached home, "' that 



262 HISTORY OF THE 124TH NEW YORK VOLUNTEERS. 

every loyal person I meet here seems wonderfully proud of, and 
can tell mo all about ' our glorious Orange Blossoms ; ' but unfor- 
tunately nearly every man, woman, and child in the county en- 
tertains a superstition that the placing of one's name on the rolls 
of the 124th is equivalent to signing his death warrant." About 
the middle of April the Captain became so discouraged because of 
his want of success, that he asked to be recalled to duty at the 
front; and on the 24th he, with his party of assistants, rejoined 
the regiment— but they did not bring with them a dozen recruits. 
On the 17th of March Colonel Cummins received an order 
from Major-General Birney, which stated that, in order to equal- 
ize the brigades under him, the 124th New York would he trans- 
ferred to the Third Brigade, and that the 40th New York, which 
was then the largest regiment in the division, would be sent in 
its stead to the Second Brigade. I was at the time absent from 
the regiment, enjoying a ten day furlough-, but the following copy 
of an original document, which I find in the official records of the 
regiment, shows with what feelings the officers at least contem- 
plated a separation from their twin brother regiment, the 86th 
New York, along and by the side of which they had moved, en- 
camped, and fought from the very first day of their entry into 
active service. The indorsements show something of the stand- 
ing of the 124th with the generals who knew most about it. 

" C'amv op the 124th New York Volunteeks, March 17, 1864. 

"To Major-General D. B. Bikxey, Oom'g First Die. Third Corps: 

"We, the undersigned, officers of the 124th New York Volunteers, 
having learned with regret that our transfer from the Second Brigade is 
contemplated, do most respectfully ask to be allowed to remain in it for 
the following reasons : 

" We have been in this brigade since we came into this division. Hav- 
ing been so long associated with its gallant officers, we have become deeply 
attached to them. 

"It would separate us from the 86th New York, the officers and men 
of which we hold in the highest esteem, and with whom we have been 
associated since our organization as a regiment, having fought side by side 
■with them in every engagement in which we have borne a part. 

" These considerations, in addition to the very high estimation in which 



FIVE MONTHS AT BRANDY STATION AND CULPEPPEK. 263 

we have always held our present brigade commander, Brig. -Gen. J. H. 
Hobarfc Ward, induce us to make this appeal to you. 

•' Trusting our conduct, while under your command, has been such as 
to induce you to give this petition your favorable consideration, we sub- 
scribe ourselves, 

" Very respectfully your obedient servants, 

" F. M. Cummins, Colonel Com'ding 124 N. Y. Vol. 

H. S. Murray, Captain Company B. 

James W Benedict, Captain Company D. 

Ira S". Bush, Captain Company F. 

Thomas J. Quick, Captain Company G. 

Charles B. Wood, Captain Company A. 

Henry F. Travis, Captain Company I. 

William E. Mapes, First Lieut. Company B. 

Theodore M. Robinson, First Lieut. Co. E. 

John R. Hays, Lieutenant Company H. 

Lewis S. Wisner, Lieutenant Company K. 

John W Houston. Lieutenant Company D. 

Charles T. Ceessey, Lieutenant Company A. 
"William B. Van Houten, First Lieutenant and Adjutant." 

" Headquarters Second Brigade, First Division, Third Corps, March 17, 1861. 

" Respectfully forwarded. If, in the opinion of the Major-General 
commanding, the exigencies of the service will permit, I would also ask 
that the views of the regiment be carried out. The officers and men are 
very melancholy in regard to the transfer. The esprit-da-corps is great ; 
it is with regiments as with brigades. If a brigade of this division should 
be exchanged for another, the feelings of all concerned may be imagined 
but cannot be described. There is no better fighting regiment in this 
division than the 124th New York. They feel proud of their brigade and 
division. I sincerely hope if, in the judgment of the Major-General com- 
manding, the service will not be injured thereby, that the petition of the 
officers may be granted. 

J. H. Hob art Ward, Brigadier-General." 

" Headquarters First Division, Third Corps, March 17, 1864. 

" Respectfully returned. The request of the officers of this gallant 
regiment will be fully considered. The exigencies of the service demand 
a transfer noio, but it may not be necessary to make it a permanent trans- 
fer. The Major-General commanding will try to meet the views and 
grant the request of the officers. 

" By command of Major-Gene ral Birney. 
■'Charles H. Graves, Captain -and A. A. G." 



264 HISTOKY OF THE 124TK NEW YORK VOLUNTEERS. 

The regiment had been instructed to prepare for moving camp, 
but on the 18th an order came stating that it would be allowed 
to remain in the camp it then occupied. All reports, however, 
were sent to, and we received orders from the commanding officer 
of the Third brigade for about ten days, when we were formally 
re-transferred to Ward's brigade. Sergeant Taft writes concern- 
irjo- tho doings of the reaiment from the 19th to the 29th as follows : 

" Saturday, March V.)th. — We received orders about 10 o'clock 
last night to make ourselves comfortable, as the order to move 
camp had been countermanded. This news was the occasion of 
great rejoicing, in the 86th as well as in our own regiment. 
Have spent the afternoon cleaning up for Sunday inspection. 
All regular drills and duties were omitted except dress parade, 
which was held by Lieut. -Colonel Weygant, who returned from 
furlough this afternoon. 

" Sunday, March 20th. — Clear and very cold. The whole of 
the Third brigade was formed in line for inspection, at 9 a. m., on 
the top of a. bleak hill, where there was nothing to break off the 
piercing wind. Our regiment was the last one inspected, and we 
stood there shivering until one o'clock. 

"Monday, March '21st. — Colder than ever. Nearly all the 
men of our regiment went out on picket this morning. 

" Wednesday, March 23d. — A heavy storm set in about four 
o'clock yesterday afternoon, and when we got up this morning we 
found the around covered with about eia;ht inches of snow — a 
very unusual thing for the sunny south, I should imagine. But 
the sun came out quite warm this morning, and the snow is now 
(12 m.) wasting quite rapidly Quartermaster Post has found 
a sleigh somewhere, and he and several of our line officers who 
remained in camp are riding about in high glee. General Birney 
has had an ambulance body placed on runners, and is also enjoy- 
ing the sleighing. It must have been very severe on our boys 
out on picket last night. 

" Sunday, March 27th. — Inspection from nine to twelve by 
Colonel Cummins. Divine service at the theatre * in the after- 

* Immediately after the army had settled in winter quarters there were erected in 



Five months at brandy station and culpeppee. 265 

noon. Chaplain Bradner opened the meeting, and Chaplain 
Acker, of the 86th, preached from Matthew x. 6. 

" Tuesday, March 29th. — Cloudy, windy, and cold. We were 
ordered to be ready for corps review at nine a. m. Bugle blew 
' fall in ' at half-past eight, and we formed on color line and 
stacked arms. Before nine o'clock it began to rain, but at the 
appointed time, in spite of a cold driving storm, we started for 
the corps review ground, knowing very well that we would not 
have a review in such a storm. After we had marched about 
two miles the order was countermanded, and we returned to 
camp." 

About the 1st of April our division moved to the left some 
three miles, and occupied a portion of the line which the Third 
division of our corps had just vacated. The 124th was here 
assigned to log cabins which had been erected, and occupied for 
several months, by the 10th Vermont. We found in their camp 
a regimental chapel which the Green Mountain boys had built in 
a tasty and substantial manner of hewn logs. It was fifty feet 
long and thirty-five feet wide. In one end was a speaker's stand, 
and it was furnished with seats made of split logs hewn very 
smooth. The first Sunday after our arrival there Chaplain Brad- 
ner preached to us a most excellent sermon from Matthew 
xxiv 35. 

The 86th, as usual, lay adjoining the 124th, and in mounting 
guard the two regiments united forces, and one line of sentries 
inclosed the two camps. Our chapel, too, became joint property, 
and every Sunday afternoon during our sojourn there our chap- 
lains preached alternately to attentive congregations, composed of 
about equal numbers of men from each regiment. 

As the month of April wore away, the fact that our long 
period of comparative repose was drawing rapidly to a close be- 
came daily more and more apparent. On the 12th an order was 
received directing that all surplus clothing, blankets, and the 
like, be packed in cracker boxes and sent to Washington, where, 

nearly every brigade one or more large log buildings, which were used for public 
assemblages. These buildings were sometimes called theatres and sometimes chapels. 



266 HISTORY OF THE 124TH NEW YORK VOLUNTEERS, 

it was said, the)' would be stored until needed again, or the owners 
should call for them. On the 16th all sutlers were ordered to leave 
the army On the 21st regimental hospitals were broken up, and 
the entire ambulance force was kept busy for several days cart- 
ing the sick, first to division hospitals, and then from the division 
hospitals to the depot at Culpepper, where they were packed in 
cars and started for government hospitals in and about Washing- 
ton. On the 22d there was a grand review by Generals Grant 
and Meade, accompanied by the corps commanders ; and on the 
26th the entire army vacated its winter camps and moved out 
and pitched its canvas and muslin shelters in the open fields — 
our brigade encamping in a ravine, from which the men had to go 
half a mile for water, and a mile and a half for wood. To this 
last movement there was but one accepted interpretation, which 
was given by the soldiers, one to the other, in such figurative but 
very plain terms, as " Stand from under " — " Time is up " — 
" Look out for breakers " — or, u 1 want to go home." 

Since our arrival at Brandy Station, at the close of the Gettys- 
burg campaign, which, it will be remembered, ended with the 
month of July, 1863, the losses and gains of the regiment, in 
addition to those already recorded, were as follows : 



GAINS. 

FIRST LIEUTENANT E. J. CARMICK, COMPANY F. 



John McGrath. 

James Smith 

George Boon. 
Harvey P Corey 
John K. Payne. 
John White . 
Moses liumscy 
Josiah Smith . 
Charles Galicher 
Martin Everett. 
Daniel Babcock. 
Matthew Babcock 
Hezekiah II. Montross. 
Charles Babcock. 

John Morgan 

Thomas Morgan. . 
Joseph Gordon. 



.Company A 
" ' B 
B 
B 
B 
B 
B 
B 
B 
B 
B 
B 
B 
B 
B 
B 
B 



John Slawson 


Company B 


William H. Thorp. .. 


B 


James Lewis 


B 


John N. Carey 


" B 


Martin V Campbell 


B 


John \V Stanton. 


B 


Charles Gordon . .... 


D 


William H. Gordon. 


" n 


David D. Barrett 


D 




D 


James Ryerson 


D 


Peter D. Howell 


D 


Michael McMorris. .... 


D 


William H. Morgan. 


D 


William E. Merritt. 


D 


Joseph Qnackenbush 


D 


David D. Sayer 


D 



FIVE MONTHS AT BEANDY STATION AND CULPEPPER. 267 



George E. Storms. 
Stephen Valentine. . 
John Schofield 
Levi D. Fowler 
Sylvester Quackenbush 
David Barrett, Jr. 
Garrett Decker 
Joseph Herman 
Oscar S. Weymar. 
Almond P Sherman. 
Joseph J. Yeomans. 
James 'Walker 



.Com 



mny D 
D 
D 
D 
D 
D 
D 
D 
D 
D 
D 
E 



William H. Carley . . . Company F 


George H. Crawford 


G 


Joseph Vredenburg. 


G 


Archibald Millspaugh 


G 


Charles E. Owen 


G 


Nathan \V Parker 


G 


John F Meyers 


G 


John Felic. .. .. 


H 


Charles E. Hicks 


H 


Martin Brennan 


I 


Kenneth McClellan 


I 


Ezra Williams 


I 



Nearly all the men whose names appear in the above list 
were volunteers from Orange County, and a considerable number 
of them had " seen service" in other regiments. 



LOSSES. 

During the period referred to the following names had, in 
addition to those of men killed or mortally wounded in battle, 
been added to our " Death List : "' 



CORP. Elisha P Benjamin 
Corp. Robert W Gardner 
Corp. George C. Godfrey 
Private Samuel Clark. 

Samuel Shultz. .. 
" Henry Hoofman 



Hospital Steward Isaac Ellison 

Company "B 

" " B 

E 



Private Henry B. Appleman. .Company F 
" John Chambers. " U 

" Nelson De Groat, " G 

" James Cullen . . . " I 

Daniel E. Webb . . " K 



Eighty-two of our original members had, meantime, because 
of physical debility, arising in most instances from wounds re- 
ceived in battle, been transferred to the Veteran Reserve Corps. 
The following is a complete list of their names : 



Corp. Abram Bellows. 


. Company 


A 


George Culver. 


.Company 


B 


Charles H. Valentine. 


. 


A 


Corp. Daniel O'Hara. 


" 


C 


Robert Potter. 


1 i 


A 


Corp. Oscar Terwilliger. 


" 


C 


Sergt. Robt. R. Murray 


" 


B 


Corp. Ephraim Tompkins 


" 


c 


Corp. John Williams 


.. 


B 


David Wright 


" 


c 


Moses S. Clark. 


c e 


B 


William Bodenstein 


" 


c 


Harrison Bull 


i i 


B 
B 


George W Florence 
Peter Conklin. 


t c 

i ( 


c 


John F. Brown 


.. 


c 


Herman Crans. 


t ( 


B 


\V illiam H. Maney 


It 


c 


James Finley 


i i 


B 


Isaac Odell 


a 


c 


Dennis McCormick 


" 


B 

B 


Corp. E. Morris Bahrman 
Corp. Ezra Hyatt 


i 1 


D 


David R. P Van Gordon . 


" 


D 


William E. Titus ... 


" 


B 




1 1 


D 



268 HISTORY OF 


THE 124TH 1 


William H. Callister . . . 


.Company D 


John Gannin 


D 


Stephen W. Garrison 


D 


Norman L. Dill. 


" D 


Abram C. Forshee 


D 


Joseph B. Kay 


D 


William H. Tomer. .. 


" D 


Olander A. Humphrey.. 


D 


Sergt. William Price. 


E 


John H. Miller 


E 


Charles J. Fosdick. 


E 


John H. Little. 


E 




E 


Job M. Snell. 


F 


William H. Patterson 


F 


Andrew Mesler 


F 




F 


George H. Langton . 


F 


Clement B. Anderson 


F 


Coup. Lewis P Miller. 


G 


Corp. Charles G. Cooper. 


G 


Peter F. Bernier 


G 


William E. Cannon 


G 


John M. Calver 


G 


George W Odell . 


G 


Abram Stalter 


G 


Alexander Trainer 


G 


Charles H. Wright. 


" G 



NEW YORK VOLUNTEERS. 



Sekgt. George B. Youngblood, Company H 

H 
H 
H 
H 
H 
H 
H 



Samuel S. Youngblood 
Andrew Bowman 
Thomas H. Baker 
Jesse F. Camp 
Thornton Dawson. 
David Hawley 
David Traphagan 
Sekgt. Amos M. Eager 
Cokp. Samuel McQuaid 
John H. McAllister. 
Whitmore Baxter 
James Bovell 
Jacob Chatfield .... 
Alexander Crawford. 
Nelson Foot 
James C. Haggerty. 
Anson Hamilton . 
John Hamil. .... 
David L. Kidd. .. . 
William Milliken 
CoitP. George Yanskiver. 
Cokp. Daniel Carpenter 
George W Camfield. . . 
Hugh Foley 
William H. Carter 
Ira S. Ketcham 



K 
K 
K 
K 
K 
K 



The following sixty-four had been, for the same reason, mus- 
tered out of the service, many of them minus an arm or a leg, or 
otherwise maimed for life : 



Adjutant William Bronson. 



Corp. William McQuoid. 


.Company A 


James McElroy 


Company C 


Samuel L. Conklin. 


A 


John W Smith. 


'* 


D 


Abraham Hyatt. 


A 


Richard Quackenbush. 


" 


D 




A 


Jonas F. Quackenbush. . 


*' 


D 


Hervey Kimball 


A 


William L. Becroft. .. 


(t 


D 


William Myers 


A 


William McGarrah. 


a 


D 


2d Lt. Gabriel S. Tuthill, 


B 




" 


D 


Corp. James Scott. 


B 


1st Lieut. Wm. A. Verplank 


CI 

y 


E 


Ezra F. Tuthill 


B 


Corp. Oscar Harris, Jr. 


" 


E 


William H. Luckey 


B 


Corp. Hiram Ketcham. 


'• 


E 


George Babeock ... 


B 


Judson Kelley 


(< 


E 


Albert Young 


B 


Adam W Beakes 


it 


E 


Hugh McShane 


B 


2d Lieut. Samuel W Hotchkiss, " 


F 


Daniel C. Rider 


C 


Cokp Michael Rensler. 


" 


F 


James Montgomery 


c 


William H. Schofield 


" 


F 


John Tompkins 


c 


Ira Gordon. 


"' 


F 


George G. Taylor. . . 


c 


George W. Adams 




F 



F I V E M O N T II S AT BRANDY STATION AND C U L P E P P E K 


269 


Richard L. White Company 


- F 


Capt. Leander Clark Company I 


Martin W Quick 


F 


Sergt. Spencer C. Brooks. ' 




William C. Vansickle 


F 


Corp. Samuel Chalmers. ' 




1st Lt. James 0. Denniston, " 


G 


Corp. John H. Stanton ' 




Sergt. Robert Fairchild " 


G 


James McOiregor. .. ' 




Selah Brock . . .... 


G 


Fdward Oney . ... ' 




James M. Miller .... " 


G 


James T. Thitchener. . . ' 




William L. Miller " 


G 


Alexander Thompson . . ' 




John Ostrander. .. .. " 


G 


Samuel A White ' 




Abraham Rapalje. .. " 


G 


Jacob E. Smith ' 


K 


Patrick Toohey " 


G 


Egbert S. Puff 


K 


2d Lieut. John R. Hays. 


H 


William W Bailey 


K 


Van Keuren Crist. .. " 


H 


William H. H. Wood. .. 


K 


Abram Hawley . . " 


H 


John O'Brien ' 


K 


John McCann 


H 







In order to complete the list of our losses, it is necessary to 
add the names of six others, after each of which the word 
deserter has been written. This I do with exceeding reluctance, 
not only on account of the black shadow which they cast over the 
names which precede them, for it is — though improbable — barely 
possible that one or more of the number may have been captured 
by the enemy, and have languished and died in some Southern 
prison pen ; — they are : 



Jeremiah Hartnett. 


. .Company A 


William Fosbury 


.Company G 


Samuel Lewis 


C 


John Munhall. 


G 


James Ryan 


" C 


Robert Wilson. 


I 



270 HISTORY OF TILE 124TII NEW YOKE VOLUNTEERS. 



CHAPTER XV 

ON TO RICHMOND. IN THE WILDERNESS. 

DURING the latter half of March and the month of April a 
radical reorganization of the Army of the Potomac was 
effected. The organization of veterans known as the First Corps 
ceased to exist, and the regiments which had composed it were 
attached to the Fifth Corps. The Third Corps, too, was broken 
up ; the division which French brought into it, after Gettysburg 
was assigned to the Sixth Corps, and the " Old Third " became 
henceforth a part of the Second Corps. 

The first and second days of May were devoted by the sub- 
ordinate commanders to the making of a final and searching in- 
spection of their respective commands ; and on the afternoon of 
the third, six clays' rations and fifty rounds of ammunition were 
issued to the troops. Just after dark that night marching orders 
reached us, in which the time for the starting of Birney's divis- 
ion was fixed at one hour before midnight. About nine o'clock 
our regiment was assembled, without arms, in front of Colonel 
Cummins' quarters, and Adjutant Van Houton read to it, by the 
light of a flickering candle, the following address, which had just 
been received : 

" Headquarters Army of the Potomac, May 3, 1864. 

" Soldiers ! — Again you are called upon to advance on the enemies of 
your country. The time and the occasion are deemed opportune by your 
commanding General to address you a few words of confidence and caution. 
You have been reorganized, strengthened, and fully equipped in every 
respect. You form a part of several armies of your country — the whole 
under an able and distinguished general, who enjoys the confidence of the 
government, the people, and the army. Your movements being in coop- 
eration with others, it is of the utmost importance that no effort should be 
spared to make it successful. 



ON TO KICHMOND. 27l 

" Soldiers ! the eyes of the whole country are looking with anxious 
hope to the blow you are about to strike in the most sacred cause that ever 
called men to aims. Remember your homes, your wives and children ; 
and bear in mind that the sooner your enemies are Overcome the sooner 
you will be returned to enjoy the benefits and blessings of peace. Bear 
with patience the hardships and sacrifices you will be called upon to endure. 
Have confidence in your officers and in each other. Keep your ranks on 
the march and on the battle-field ; and let each man earnestly implore 
God's blessing, and endeavor, by his thoughts and actions, to render him- 
self worthy of the favor he seeks. With clear conscience and stron°- arms, 
actuated by a high sense of duty, fighting to preserve the government and 
the institutions handed down to us by our forefathers, if true to ourselves, 
victory, under God's blessing, must and will attend our efforts. 

"George G. Meade, Major-General Commanding. 
"S. Williams, Asst. Adjutant-General." 

At eleven p. m. we struck tents, and just after midnight bade 
adieu, for the last time, to our camping grounds about Culpepper, 
and, in obedience to orders, moved silently forward through the 
gloom. Hour after hour we plodded on. Daylight came, the 
sun appeared, and at length, after a march of full twenty miles, 
we reached the Rapidan at Ely's Ford, and crossed on pontoons 
to the southern shore. About a mile beyond the river an aide 
met us with the order, " File to the right and eat your breakfast 
without delay " It was now ten o'clock. At eleven we were 
moving forward again toward Chancellorsville, and at two P. M. 
bivouacked on the old battle field. Hancock had been ordered 
to halt there and await the arrival of Meade's entire train, which 
is said to have consisted of four thousand wagons, all of which 
had been ordered to follow the Second corps across the river by 
way of Ely's Ford. This would seem to indicate that, unlike 
his predecessors, Grant had determined, under no circumstances, 
to return to the old camping grounds north of the Rapidan. 

Our resting-place was in the woods — the same in which we had 
bivouacked on the afternoon of the first day of May, 1863. We 
were within a mile of the site of the old Third corps hospitals, in 
which, during the battle of Chancellorsville, nearly three thousand 
of Sickles' wounded,, bleeding heroes were gathered. A quar- 
ter of a mile to our right ran that little stream, at the edge of the 



woods, the shores of which, just a year and a day before, were 
moistened with the warm blood of nearly two hundred Sons of 
Orange, about fifty of whom, with their wounds healed to honor- 
able scars, were again on duty with the regiment. Many of 
these sought and received permission, during the afternoon, to go 
for water to this cool stream, in which they had bathed their 
wounds or laved their parched tongues ; but when they reached 
the spot they forgot their errand, for the ground was strewn with 
the bleached bones of their dead comrades. 

Captain Murray, writing to his father that afternoon, says : 
'' I have been over the old field — seen the place where I was 
wounded, the identical bog on which I was kneeling when I fell, 
and the place I was carried to by our boys. Our dead were but 
partially buried, and skulls and bones lay about in great profu- 
sion. I found a skull where Shawcross fell, with a hole in the 
forehead just where he was shot. Captain Crist found an India 
rubber blanket marked with the name of the first man who fell 
in his company. It made my heart sick to look over the ground. 
I inclose some flowers picked from the spot where my company 
stood in the fight, and the leaves from an old testament found at 
the same place." 

The Confederate dead, it would seem, had all been decently 
buried very near where they had fallen. At one place in the 
woods, just in front of where the battle-line of the 124th had 
been, we found over a hundred graves. They were generally in 
rows of from three to ten each, under trees, from the trunks of 
which patches of bark had been blazed. On these blazed places 
the number of men buried there, and the company and regiment 
to which they belonged, was cut, and in many instances the 
names were given in full. We counted fifty -three graves marked 
" 23d North Carolina." This, it will be remembered, was one of 
the regiments led against us by that brave Confederate, Colonel 
David H. Christie. 

We spent the night near these scenes of the first principal 
trial of our mettle as a regiment, and in many a letter written that 
afternoon there was inclosed a tiny wild flower, which the writer 



ON TO RICHMOND. 273 

believed had been nourished by soil enriched by his own blood, 
or by that of some friend and comrade who had there fought his 
last fight. It was a very easy matter to discover just where 
pools of blood had been, for those particular spots were marked 
by the greenest tufts of grass and brightest flowers to be found 
upon the field. During the evening Colonel Cummins sent out a 
burial party to gather up the human bones which lay strewn over 
that portion of the field on which the majority of the brave boys 
of our regiment had fallen, and to hide them in a deep grave, 
away from the gaze of curious human eyes. 

The line of advance against Richmond chosen by General 
Grant led through the Wilderness — " a region interspersed with 
a few small farms, but whose poor, gravelly soil is otherwise 
covered, for a few miles, with a tangled forest of oak and shrub- 
bery. It was in this region that the fuel had been cut, ever since 
the days when Governor Spottiswoode, of the colony, first 
wrought the iron mines of the neighborhood, to supply the fur- 
naces. Hence arose the coppices which covered the larger part 
of the surface of the country, in which every stump had sent up 
two or three minor stems in place of the parent trunk removed 
by the axe of the woodman, and the undergrowth had availed it- 
self of the temporary flood of sunlight let in upon the soil to 
occupy it with an almost impenetrable thicket of dwarf oak, chin- 
capin, and whortleberry " * 

Greeley refers to this weird region, with reference to Grant's 
campaign, in the following terms : " The Wilderness is a consid- 
erable tract of broken table-land, stretching southward from the 
Rapidan nearly to Spottsylvania Court House, seamed with ra- 
vines, and densely covered with dwarfish timber and bushes, 
diversified by very few clearings, but crossed by three or four 
good roads, the best of them centering on Fredericksburg, and by 
a multiplicity of narrow cart tracks, used in times of peace only 
by wood-cutters. (It is a mineral region, and its timber has been 
repeatedly swept off as fuel for miners.) In this tangled laby- 
rinth numbers, artillery, and cavalry are of small account ; local 

* See Prof. R. L. Dabney's " Life of Jackson," p. 068, 



274 HISTOEY OF THE 124TH NEW YORK VOLUNTEEBS. 

knowledge, advantage of position, and command of roads, every- 
thing." 

When Hancock's corps lay down to rest in the woods at 
Chancellorsville, the bulk of Lee's army was believed to be at 
Orange Court House, thirty miles away, with its most advanced 
brigades posted behind their strong works on the heights of Mine 
Run, which was twelve miles distant. Grant evidently hoped, 
by a sudden movement and rapid marching on the morrow, to get 
through if not miles beyond this gloomy region, before his adver- 
sary, taken unawares, should have time to bring forward a suffi- 
cient force with which to intercept, or even check him ; but he 
was not yet thoroughly acquainted with Lee and .his army of 
northern Virginia. 

While we slept that night the rebel chief, kept aware, as if 
by some magic agency, of the designs of the Union commanders, 
as well as of the movements of our troops, was making the neces- 
sary preparations to bring our army to bay and give it battle on 
ground of his choosing. He had determined to leave his elabo- 
rate works behind him ; to assume a bold aggressive ; intercept 
and attempt to shut our army into the very centre of the wildest 
section of this most dismal region, where, being thoroughly 
acquainted with every wood road, and bridle-path, he could, with 
a few thousand troops, effectually block the main highways, leav- 
ing the bulk of his army free, to be hurried, unseen of his foes, 
hither and thither through the tangled and (to the Union army) 
apparently impenetrable forests ; and hurled in irresistible masses 
against Grant's moving columns, or the weak points in his half- 
formed lines. It is generally conceded, by those who are sup- 
posed to know most about it, that Lee had not the slightest 
doubt of his ability to again cause the Union army to take the 
back track, and that right speedily ; but he had something to 
learn of that army's new commander. 

In order to a better understanding of what is to follow, we 
will attempt to convey to the reader what we knew at the time 
referred to, and have since learned, regarding the " make up 
and strength of these mighty armies, just entering on a campaign 



ON TO K I (J H M N D. 



275 



of which, as to the number, desperateness, and terrible carnage 
of the battles fought, no parallel is to be found in the annals of war. 

Very, few reliable official Confederate documents, concerning 
the details of this bloody campaign, have been allowed to reach 
the light. The surviving ex-officers of Lee's army seem to have 
entered into a compact to carry with them to their graves such 
facts as they are possessed of concerning the actual number 
engaged and losses sustained ; and to do their utmost to fasten 
upon the mind of every historian of the war, North and South, 
who comes to them for information, the impression that the 
army of Northern Virginia was weaker in numbers, during 
the first ten days of the great campaign of 1864, than at any 
other period of its existence. I venture the assertion that it will 
yet be proven, that it was never stronger. 

The published statistics of both armies concerning the num- 
ber of men who actually took the field, with weapons in their hands, 
at the opening of this campaign, are either mere estimates, or 
else so warped, shrunken, or distored as to be wholly unreliable, 
and totally valueless to the reader who is seeking for the truth. 
Lee had under him three corps of infantry and one of cavalry, viz. : 





Firs 


T COJIPS. 






Second 


Corps. 






Third Corps 




Cav. Corps 






Lieut. -G 


EN. 






Lieut 


-G 


EN. 






Lieut 


-Gen. 




Major-Gen. 




LONGSTREET. 






EWEIL 








A. P. 


Hill. 




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These sixteen divisions averaged four brigades each, and each 
brigade contained from three to eight regiments, and the regi- 
ments could not have averaged less than 350 men each. There 



276 HISTORY OF THE 124TH NEW YORK VOLUNTEERS. 



were besides in this army upwards of seventy light batteries, each 
of which mustered from one to two hundred men.* 

General Meade's army consisted of thirty-two brigades of 

infantry, nine brigades of cavalry, and batteries of light 

artillery These brigades, with the divisions and corps into 
which they were formed, were commanded, on the day the cam- 
paign opened, by the following named officers : 





Second Corp 


s. 










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Corps. 








s 


ixth Corps 






Cavalry Corps. 




Major-General 








Mj> 


.tor-General, 




Major-G 


KNEBAL 


Major-General 




W S. 


Hancock. 








(J 


K. Warren 








John Sedc. 


WICK. 




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The brigades of infantry averaged six regiments each. Many 
of these regiments did not number over two hundred and fifty 

* Among the Confederate brigade commanders were Brigadier-Generals Rosser, 
Hunter, Hoke, Mahone, Wofford, Jenkins, Brown, Perrin, Dales, Gregg, Milligan, 
Daniels, Gordon, Pegram, J. M. Jones, G. H, Stuart, Stafford, and Walker, 



ON TO RICHMOND. 277 

men for duty, and but few of them exceeded five hundred. The 
artillery force consisted of about eight thousand men, and the 
cavahy corps was twelve thousand strong. 

Conceding that, in numbers, the veteran armies of the Poto- 
mac and Northern Virginia were about equal, Grant yet had with 
him Burnside's Ninth corps, which had reached the northern side 
of the Rapidan only two or three days before the campaign 
opened. This corps was composed of about equal numbers of 
veterans, untried negroes, and raw white recruits, and carried, it 
is said, full twenty thousand rifles. To that extent Grant's army 
certainly outnumbered Lee's. 

At four a. m., on the 5th day of May, the Army of the Poto- 
mac was awakened from its slumbers. It had crossed the Rapi- 
dan without encountering any serious opposition, and had spent 
the night quietly resting on the northern outskirts of the Wilder- 
ness. The Second corps, as has already been stated, lay near 
the Chancellor farm. The Fifth corps had crossed at Germania 
Ford, and was at Old Wilderness Tavern, five miles west of 
Chancellorsville. The Sixth corps had crossed at Germania Ford 
after the Fifth, and bivouacked for the night on the southern 
banks of the river. Sheridan, with the cavalry divisions of 
Merrit and Gregg, was covering the front and flanks of the right 
column. Wilson had moved with, and was lying in advance of, 
the Second corps. Burnside had not yet crossed the river. 

General Meade's " order of march " for the dav, after direct- 
ing in detail the movements of the cavalry, which was charged 
with clearing the roads of the enemy's troopers, reads as follows : 

"2d. Major-General Hancock, commanding Second corps, will move at 
five A. m. to Shady Grove Church, and extend his right toward the Fifth 
corps at Parker's store. 

" 3d. Major-General Warren, commanding Fifth corps, will move at 
five a. m. to Parker's store on the Orange Conrt-house plank road, and 
extend his right toward the Sixth corps at Old Wilderness Tavern. 

" 4th. Major-General Sedgwick, commanding the Sixth corps, will 
move to Old Wilderness Tavern, on the Orange Court-house pike, as soon 
as the road is clear." 

Shady Grove church is situated on the southern outskirts of 



278 HISTORY OF THE 124TH NEW YORK VOLUNTEERS. 

the most dense portion of the Wilderness, and about ten miles 
southward from Chancellorsville. Parker's store is in' a direct 
line, and about one-third of the way from Old Wilderness Tavern 
to Shady Grove church. Had Grant succeeded in posting his 
army on this line he would, while being several miles distant 
from, and facing the Confederates' line of works on Mine Run, 
(behind which he evidently believed the bulk of the Confederate 
army confronting him, was being concentrated) have held the 
Brock road, a passable highway through the dreaded Wilderness. 
And in a few hours he could have covered his front with a- line 
of breastworks, which would have rendered it almost absolutely 
impossible for Lee to have prevented his passing the Union army, 
without serious loss, to the more open country about Spottsyl- 
vania. 

Promptly at the hour designated (five a. m.) Meade's army 
was in motion. Sedgwick moved briskly southward along the 
Stephensburgh plank road, and at seven o'clock the head of his 
column had reached and was massing in the woods, in rear of 
Warren's headquarters, which had not yet been moved from the 
vicinity of Old Wilderness Tavern. Warren had, meantime, 
pushed out and established his right, consisting chiefly of Griffin's 
division, about a mile down and across the Orange turnpike. 
The remainder of his corps, led by Crawford's division, was mov- 
ing cautiously to the left, along a narrow wood road, which led 
through a dense growth of underbrush toward Parker's store. 

This wood road was occasionally blocked by fallen trees 
which had to be removed, and before Crawford had proceeded a 
mile and a half he discovered, riding hastily back toward him, a 
small and partially disorganized body of Union cavalry, and soon 
learned that the enemy was not only in force at Parker's store, 
but was pushing a heavy and continuous column past it, in an 
easterly direction, along the Orange plank road. On receiving 
this information Crawford ordered a halt, and dispatched an aide 
back to Warren for orders. 

At about the same time General Griffin, in attempting to ad- 
vance his videttes, became aware that he was confronted by a 



ON TO RICHMOND. 279 

solid battle-line of Confederate infantry, and he forthwith sent a 
messenger to convey that fact to his corps commander. 

Now it so happened that Griffin's messenger, who was the 
first to arrive at corps headquarters, found Warren engaged in 
conversation with General Sedgwick, and while he was delivering 
his message General Meade rode up. After a moment's reflec- 
tion Meade is said to have remarked, " They have left a division 
to fool us here while they concentrate a. "id prepare a position to- 
ward the North Anna, and what I want is to prevent these fel- 
lows from getting back to Mine Run." A moment later Craw- 
ford's messenger reached the group. The news he brought 
changed the aspect of affairs very materially, and Warren was 
directed to draw in his left, concentrate on the pike, and " attack 
furiously whatever he could find in his front." Sedgwick was 
directed to make his way through the woods the best he could, 
with the divisions of Wright and Prince, and connect with and 
support Warren's right ; while Getty, with the remaining division 
of Sedgwick's corps, was hurried to the left with orders to seize 
the Orange plank, in front of where it is crossed by the Brock 
road, and hold it at all hazards until Hancock's corps could be 
intercepted in its march toward Shady Grove church, and brought 
up into line on the left. 

At twelve m. the battle was opened by the impetuous advance 
of Griffin's division, which, with its centre following the pike, 
tore its way through the vines and brush on either side, and soon 
carne up to and engaged what proved to be Johnson's division -of 
Ewell's corps, with such terrific fury as to force it back, with 
heavy loss, for over a mile. But at that point Johnson was joined 
by the balance of Ewell's corps, which had just come up, and the 
Confederate line was formed on some high ground from which it 
could not, with the Union force at hand, be driven ; and Griffin, 
while heavily engaged in front, soon found it necessary to look after 
his flanks. Somewhere off to his right Sedgwick was making his 
way through the tangled forest, but so slowly that he would not 
be up for hours. Wadsworth's division was to have come up on 
his left, but unfortunately had lost the direction, and had swung 



280 HISTORY OF THE 124TH NEW YORK VOLUNTEERS. 

around to such an extent that instead of coming into position as 
directed, it presently ran its left flank into the enemy's lines. 

These facts were not unknown to the Confederate chiefs. 
Now was their time to strike, and they improved the opportunity 
Volley after volley was hurled in rapid succession into Wads- 
worth's naked flank, and the gallant men of that division, hearing 
the thunder of battle echoing through the woods all about them, 
seeing nothing ten feet beyond their own ranks, and knowing 
only that they were being cut to pieces by concealed foes, be- 
came confused and fell back in disorder, with heavy loss. 
McCandless' brigade, of Crawford's division, fared no better, for 
having become isolated in the impenetrable woods, it was almost 
surrounded, and driven from the field with the loss of full one- 
third its numbers. At about the same time Ewell assumed the 
offensive, with the bulk of his corps, against Griffin, and suc- 
ceeded, after a desperate straggle, in which both sides lost 
heavily, in forcing the latter back, and wresting from him all the 
ground fie had gained. 

About three p. m. there was a lull in the storm of battle, 
which, since noon, had raged most furiously ; and Warren formed 
a new line a little west of the Old Wilderness Tavern. 

Now let us return to the Second corps, and take a look at 
Ward's brigade, and especially at the 124th, which we will then 
follow to the scene of action and into the battle. 

At four A. m., on the 5th, the veterans of Hancock's command 
were awakened from their quiet slumbers on the Old Chancel- 
lorsville battle-ground, and directed to prepare and eat their 
breakfast, buckle on their accoutrements, and remain in readiness 
to move at a moment's notice — every armed man in the ranks. 

Ward's command consisted of the following named regiments : 
the 99th, 110th, and 141st Pennsylvania; the 40th, 86th, and 
124th New York, the 3d Maine, the 20th Indiana, and the 2d 
United States Sharpshooters. It was one of the largest brigades 
in the army, reporting for duty the day before marching orders 
reached it, ]72 commissioned officers and 3381 enlisted men; 
and it carried that morning nearly 2700 rifles. 



ON TO. RICHMOND. 281 

The gains and losses of the 124th since its organization have 
already been given in detail ; but let us again, as we did a year 
ago, pass along its lines and note the changes in position of the 
veterans who remain in it, see just who now compose its fighting 
strength, and inquire as to where the others are who, though not 
in the ranks, help to make up the grand aggregate of present for 
duty in the brigade. 

That group of officers sitting under the large tree yonder, at 
the right of the line, contains the entire field and staff of the 
regiment. It consists of 

COLONEL F. M. CUMMINS. 

LIEUT.-COLONEL C. H. WEYGANT. CAPT. H. S. MURRAY, Acting-Major 

Surgeon J. H. Thompson. Asst. Surgeon R. V- K. Montfort. 

Chaplain T. Scott Bradner. Quartermaster Ellts A. Post. 

Adjutant William B. Van Houten. 

That second group consists of Sergeaxt-Major Thomas G. 
Mabie, Bugler Moses P Ross, and Hospital Steward Coe L. 
Reevs. And that squad still farther away is made up of what 
is left of our drum corps ; you will find there 

John G. Buckley, Leader. 



diaries Whitehead, of H .. .Fife. 

Arthur Haigh, of H " 

George. W Dimmick, of D " 

Henry C. Payne, of B " 



Robert L. Travis, of F .... .Drum. 

A. A. Millspaugh, of K. 

John N. Cole, of I. " 

R. L. Stephens, of E " 



These musicians are an unruly crew. A few days before we 
broke camp they took to tossing one of their number — Charley 
Van Gordon, of G. — in a blanket ; and because he would not cry 
enough, they gave him such a tremendous toss that they could 
not hold the blanket when he came down, and his arm was frac- 
tured so severely that he had to be shipped to the rear with our 
sick. And now, as the "fall in" has sounded, let us turn our 
attention to the rank and file and officers of the line, for in a few 
moments they will be marching to the front. About a month ago 
the companies were re-positioned in accordance with the rank of 
their respective commanding officers, 



282 HISTORY OF THE 124TH SEW YORK VOLUNTEERS. 



m 



Ph 
< 



E* 

p 

H 

l-l 

En 



fe 



1st. Sekgt. C. A. Wheeler. 
Cokp. Simon Bellis. 
Cokp. J. M. Merritt. 
William Slawson. 
Wesley Storms. 
E. M. Carpenter. 
William H. Hazen. 
John C. Storms. 
William H. Merritt. 
Samuel Green. 
A. W Tucker. 
Samuel Sherman. 
John Eckert. 
Joseph Eross. 
Harvey P. Carey.* 
John White. 
Moses Ramsey. 
Charlei Galicher. 
Daniel Babcock. 
Charles Babcock. 
John Morgan. 
The mas Morgan. 
Mar/in V. Campbell. 
Corp. H. H. Montross. 
Cokp. Charles H. Bull. 



Jesse Hunter. 
Mathew Crowley. 
Patrick Leach. 
B. M. Little. 
W. H. Luckey. 
James Odell. 
Hugh McShane. 
A. J. Messenger. 
James Gavin. 
Joseph Pratt. 
James Smith. 
George Boon. 
John K. Payne. 
John II'. Stanton. 
Josiah Smith. 
Martin Everett. 
Matthew Babcock. 
Joseph Gordon. 
John Slawson. 
IP. H. Thorp. 
James Lewis. 
J. X. Carey. 
J. H. Birdsall. 



Sergt. Jonathan Birdsall, Co. A, 
Bight General Guide. 



Sergt. S. Garrrison. 



Sergt. Reuben Binders. 



< 

M 

E-< 
Ph 
< 



1st Sergt. W. W Smith. 
Corp. W. Terwilliger. 
John N. Knapp. 
Thomas Farley. 
Robert Rose. 
Giles Curran. 
Patrick Keane. 
David Storms. 
Henry R. Turner. 
Smith Birdsley. 
William Edgar. 
Corp. Joseph Hanna. 
Corp. Daniel Longhridge. 



William Milligan. 
William Sutherland. 
Robert Wilson. 
Jeduthan Millspaugh. 
Rensslaer D. Baird. 
James Flannigan. 
Matthew Manny. 
Newton B. Pierson. 
John Gordon. 
Patrick Ryan. 
G. N. Tucker. 
Ezra Williams. 



Sergt. A. P. Millspaugh. 



Lieut. Charles Stewart. 



Sergt. James O. Smith. 



Sergt. A. T. Vanderlyn. 



w 



Ph 



O 



1st. Sergt. Thos. W. Bradley. 

Corp. Benjamin Dutcher. 

J. P. Lupton. 

Milton Crist. 

Josiah Dawson. 

Edward Hunter. 

Lyman Fairchild. 

Chester Judson. 

Francis S. Brown. 

E. D. Van Keuren. 

Corp. W. H. Brown. 

Corp. A. R. Rapalje. 



W. Buchanan. 
George M. Legg. 
James Crist. 
Jesse F. Camp. 
Grandison Judson. 
William Whiteside. 
John E. Kidd. 
Daniel W. Baker. 
John F. Jordan. 
Daniel Carman. 



Sergt. George Butters. 



Sergt. C. W. Tyndall. 



Sergt. C. B. Gallation. 



U 






Eh 

3h 
< 



1st Sergt. Thomas Taft. 
Corp. Thomas Rodman. 
Corp. W. W. Ammerman. 
William A. Homan. 
Andrew M. Boyd. 
Morvalden Odell. 
Daniel Pine. 
Albert Wise. 
Daniel S. Gardner. 
Corp. W R. Owen. 



John H. Finch. 
Albert J. Bunco. 
John Tompkins. 
Naihan Edwards. 
Frederick Dezendorf. 
W H. H. Rhodes. 
John H. Blair. 
James Daniels. 
C. F. P. Fisher. 



Sergt. D. W. Boyd. 



* The men whose names are in italics are recruits who had recently joined us. 



ON TO RICHMOND. 



283 



& 



M 
o 

M 

P5 
O 



H 

H 
P 
H 

H 



& 



1st Sergt. A. P. Francisco. 

Corp. Charles H. Hull. 

Corp. Nathan Hershler. 

Corp. James H. Taylor. 

J. S. Crawford. 

G. W. Tompkins. 

J. J. Harrigan. 

W. H. Corley. 

T. R. Allington. 

H. R. Broadhead. 

B. L. Tompkins. 

F. H. Rossman. 

Corp. James Comey. 

Corp. S. S. Crawford. 

Corp. J. M. Young. 

Corp. And. Armstrong, of M. 

Color Bearer — G. W. Edwards, A 

Corp. James P. Moulton, of C. 



J. Z. Drake. 
A. J. McCarty. 
William Balmos. 
Floyd S. Goble. 
J. C. Magee. 
Ransom Wilcox. 
James Carty. 

E. Coddington. 
George Garrett. 
Edward Sharp. 

F. Rundle. 
Charles Roberty. 
Jeremiah Cisco. 



Sergt. E. M. B. Peck. 



Sergt. Charles Peters. 



Sergt. H. Hammond. 



Corp. Charles A. Ensign, of G. 
Corp. J. P. Adams, of F. 
Corp. Alexander Jones, of G. 



m 1st Sergt. Theophilus Dolson. 



^ 


Corp. A. W. Lamereaux. 


J. H. Johnson. 


PS 


Corp. W. H. Howell. 


W. L. Dougherty. 


s 


Abraham Rogers. 


George Brown. 


< 


Lewis W. Baxter. 


Horace Wheeler. 


CO 


Edward Glenn. 


Solomon Carr. 


H 

M 

■A 

< 


Simeon Wheat. 


Lewis Gardiner. 


William Decker. 


William H. Shaw. 


Jacob M. Coddington. 


Lewis M. Tonton. 


« 


James M. Coddington. 


Henry M. Howell. 


h 


George Nichols. 


John W Hirst. 


P* 


Corp. A, W. Miller. 


Charles Downing, 


O 


Corp. Moses Crist. 


James Walker. 


W 


1st. Sergt. W. W. Parsons. 






Corp. John C. Vermylia. 


Thomas Kincaid. 


z 


Corp. H. R. Mayette. 


J. McDermott. 


o 


JohnW Parks. 


Patrick Cuneen. 


W 


W. H. Falkner. 


Michael Cullen. 


o 


Cornelius Crans. 


Isaac Konoff. 


1-5 


Joseph Point. 


Samuel V. Tidd. 


y 


Cornelius Herron. 


Gabriel Coleby. 


Ph 


Corp. David TJ. Quick. 


John Studor. 


O 


Corp. W W. Carpenter. 


A. S. Frost. 



Sergt. James Sloat. 



Sergt. Benjamin Hull. 



Sergt. W. W. Ritch. 
1st Lieut. L. S. Wisner. 
Sergt. S. W Smith. 
Sergt. W. T. Ogden. 



PQ 
ffl 

i-l 



1st Sergt. J. V. Cole. 
Corp. G. R. Fitzgerald. 
Harvey A. Brock. 
Albert W. Parker. 
David H. Corwin. 
Francis McMahon. 
John Newkirk. 
Lewis T. Shultz. 
Cornelius Hughes. 
John Trainer. 

GeorgeS. Crawford. 
Archibald Millspaugh. 
Nathan W. Parker. 

Corp. William Tysoe. 



Hector Finney. 
Mat. Sager. 
Henry Dill. 
W H. Trainer. 
G. E. Griffin. 
Daniel Smith. 
William Jackson. 
A. H. Merritt. 
Joseph Jones. 
Joseph Vredenburg. 
Charles E. Owen. 
John T. Meyers. 



Sergt. S. T. Estabrook. 



Sergt. Isaac Decker. 



Sergt. Abraham Denney. 



284: HISTORY OF THE 124TH NEW YOKK VOLUNTEERS. 



o 
o 
o 

M 

a5 

•< 
W 

o 

< 



1st Sergt. John C. Wood. 
Corp. W H. Campbell. 
Corp. Robert 0. Hunt. 
Samuel Yoemans. 
William Carpenter. 
Charles W. Gallow. 
Leonard L. Jackson. 
John H. Dingee. 
Samuel Potter. 
Richard Rollings. 
Jabez Odell. 
Joseph L. Simpson. 
Theodore Smith. 
James McGrath. 
Michael Hager. 
Corp. Henry Arcularius. 



Joseph Brownley. 
Newton Gotchieus. 
Francis B. Gallow. 
Robert Ashman. 
Daniel Ackerman. 
Patrick Flannery. 
Jacob Wilson. 
John H. Wariord. 
Allen Owen. 
Joseph Gardner. 
G. D. W. Roat. 
John H. Conklin. 
John McGrath. 
William Saunders. 
John W. Swim. 



Sergt . Peter Rose. 



Sergt. S. T. Rollings. 



Eh 
O 

5 
K 
A 
K 



ft. 

< 



1st Sbrgt. E. Holbert. 

Corp. Wm. F. Quackenbush. 

John M. Garrison. 

James H. Clark. 

Joel McCann. 

George W. Decker. 

John C. Degraw. 

Edward Royce. 

Coleman Morris. 

Carl G. Hoofman. 

William Mann. 

Daniel P. Dugan. 

Charles Gordon,. 

William H. Gordon. 

David D. Barrett. 

Simeon Garrison. 

James Eyerson. 

Peter D. Howell. 

Michael McMorris. 

Levi D. Fowler. 

David Barrett, Jr. 

Joseph Herman. 

Almond P. Sherman. 

Corp. R. S. Lamereaux. 



William H. Dill. 
William J. Miles. 
John Raymond. 
Jesseniah Dolson. 
Benjamin Gray. 
George B. Kinney. 
David P. Raymond. 
John Edwards. 
S. W. Garrison. 
H. 8. Quackenbush. 
Thomas P. Powell. 
William H. Morgan. 
William E. Merritt. 
Joseph Qiiackenbvsh. 
Darin" I). Sayer. 
George E. Storm*. 
Stephen Vallen/ine. 
John Seliofelil. 
Sylvester Quackenbush. 
Garrett Decker. 
Oscar S. Weymer. 
Joseph J. Yoemans. 



Serot. J. 6. Erwin. 



1st Lieut. J. W. Houston. 



Sergt. H. G. Herrick. 



Serqt. W. E. Hyatt. 

Sekgt. J. W. Pitts, of K, 

Left General Guide. 



The following is a complete list of our men on detached and 
special duty, who moved with the army, and were frequently 
under fire, but do not appear in the battle-line of the regiment : 



IN AMBULANCE CORPS. 



Sergt. Robert Connelly 


. . . Company D 


Sergt. 0. H. Whitney 


A 


Samuel M. Wheeden 


D 


Charles W Davis 


D 


Samuel Carey .... 


C 


George G. King. 


C 


Thomas McBride 


I 


A.J. Van Zile 


G 


Henry Brooks'. .... 


G 




K 



AT BRIGADE HEADQUARTERS. 

. Color Bearer. 
. . Clerk. 
. Clerk. 



N. A. Sly, of D. 
John R. Post, of H 
Charles W Bodle, of A 
Enos Jenkins, of A. 
Joseph Johnson, of A. 
John C. Hawley, of K. 



. Orderly. 
. Guard. 
. Guard. 



AT DIVISION HEADQUARTERS. 

James M. Ketcham, of G ... Guard. 
D. P. R, Van Gordon, of B . .Clerk, 



ON TO RICHMOND. 



285 



IN PIONEER CORPS. 



Corp. William McVay 
James A. Myers. 
Paul Halliday 
James M. Barrett. 
Levi Cartright . . . 
John Polhamus 



Company H 
I 

K 
I 
F 

A 



SURGEON'S ASSISTANTS. 
CORP. John W. Taylor .Company A 



Daniel Stephens 
Daniel Rickenbaugh 
John McGaw 



in quartermaster's dep't. 



George H. Chandler 
W P. Updegrove 
Wells Benjamin, of D 
David D. Post, of H. 
C. C. Lutes, of A. 
E. Stephens, of A 
Edward Ginner, of A. 
John Lewis, of A . . . . 



.Qr.Sergt. 
.Cum. Sergt. 
.Com. Clerk. 
.Butcher. 
Orel. Clerk. 
Teamster. 



Jeremiah Cole, of F 

J. E. Collins, of I 

\V H. Decker, of C... 
John Duffee.of H 
George Morgan, of E. 
Jacob Cameron, of K. 
T. Burhans, of K. 
Charles S. Godfrey, of 
David Barnes, of B. 



. Teamster 



IN wagon 


GUARD 






Corp. Thomas Hart 
Joseph Wood. 
John Skelton . . 
John Rediker. 
Cvrenius Giles 








Company 

l t 


A 
D 
K 
H 
G 


UNARMED MEN 


WITH 


REGIMENT. 




George Hawley 

Alonzo Price 

John H. Brown. 
David Currey 








Company 
it 


B 

K 

I 

D 



At five a. m. Hancock's corps was in motion. We moved for- 
ward at a moderate gait, and with occasional short halts, past the 
ruins of the old Chancellor mansion and along the Fredericksburg 
plank for about two miles ; when we reached, and changing direc- 
tion to the right and quickening our pace, pushed forward along 
the Catharine Furnace road. The sun's rays were exceedingly 
warm, and before eight o'clock men began to stagger from the 
ranks and sink down by the roadside overcome by the heat. 

About nine o'clock, just as our brigade reached Todd's Tavern, 
and the head of Hancock's column was a mile beyond, a mounted 
officer whose horse was almost covered with foam, went dashing 
past us toward the front. A few moments later a halt was 
ordered, and Birney's division was directed to mass in an open 
field just south of the tavern, and throw a strong picket line well 
to the front. As soon as the pickets were posted we stacked arms ; 
and while the majority threw themselves down by the gun-stacks, 
not a few old soldiers scouted the idea of lying down to rest until 
they had first fortified themselves against the scorching rays of the 
sun by " getting outside of a pint cup of piping hot Old Java" 



286 HISTORY OF THE 124TH NEW YORK VOLUNTEERS. 

About noon we heard the thundering of artillery away off to 
our right. Half an hour later we hurried into line, then counter- 
marched and moved back past Todd's Tavern, and striking the 
Brock" road, pushed down it at quick time, and with well closed 
ranks, toward Old Wildeimess Tavern. As we hurried forward 
the artillery firing became more and yet more distinct, but it 
was irregular and not very heavy We were of opinion that our 
column was marching toward the scene of a brisk cavalry skir- 
mish, but ere long there was borne back to us a dull, heavy, and 
continuous roar, which told of something more serious and deadly. 

Birney's division had the advance ; and after marching, with 
closed ranks and without slackening its pace, for an hour and a 
half, it reached, and was formed in line at right angles with, and 
on the east side of, the Orange plank road. Brisk rifle firing was 
in progress down through the woods in front -and to our right. 
Getty's division, of Sedgwick's corps, was there, skirmishing with 
Heth's division of Hill's corps. As soon as our line was com- 
pleted we stacked arms, and in a few moments, notwithstanding 
the occasional whistle of a passing bullet and the scorching rays 
of the sun, scores of the Orange Blossoms were lying fast asleep 
by their gun-stacks. 

Mott's division followed close after Birney's, moved on 
past us and formed line in the woods west of the plank road. 
Presently a detachment of engineers, accompanied by a strong 
body of pioneers, advanced a short distance through the brush 
on the west side of the Brock road, and began throwing up a line 
of breastworks. Those of us who were awake looked on in 
momentary expectation of an order to move forward and " lend a 
hand ; " but there was other and more perilous work awaiting us. 
About four o'clock a most terrific crashing of riflery in the woods 
in front, and so near that the enemy's bullets whistled over our 
heads, caused our men to spring to their feet with such alacrity 
that in less than a minute Birney's entire command had taken 
arms and was ready for action. 

The contest had been reopened in earnest by the impetuous 
advance of Getty's division. Mott's men moved rapidly forward 



IN THE WILDERNESS. 287 

and engaged the foe on Gretty's right. Heth, who had at first 
been forced back in disorder, was ere long strengthened by the di- 
visions of Anderson and Wilcox, and Hill's entire corps was soon 
in line. Hancock's remaining brigades, as they came up, were 
thrown in on the extreme Union left. The opposing forces drew 
closer and yet closer together, and the firing being at short range, 
the fighting soon became desperate and most deadly Mott had 
driven the enemy's line in front of him half a mile, but could 
push it no further, and soon called for help ; in response to which 
our division hurried off at 'a double quick down the Brock road 
for half a mile, and then changing direction by the left flank, 
sprang over some rifle pits on the west side of the road, and 
plunged into the woods to his assistance. 

We were none too soon. Scores of his wounded men were 
straggling through the woods to the rear, and we were presently 
run against, and considerably impeded, by a broken line of " white 
diamonds," falling back in disorder before a wild storm of bullets, 
which rattled through the brush, pattered against the trees, and 
hissed and whistled through the air For a moment we halted 
to rectify our line, and then, strengthened by not a few of Mott's 
men, who turned about and fell into line with us, we moved 
forward again, opening a counter fire as we went, which soon 
turned the tide of battle at that point; and it was again the Con- 
federate instead of the Union line that was falling back. Slowly 
but steadily they retired before our fresh and withering fire, con- 
testing every foot of ground. We soon began to pass over their 
dead and wounded, but we left the ground strewn with not a few 
of our own men. A little farther on we began to take prisoners, 
sometimes singly, and sometimes in squads of two and three. 
We could seldom see the enemy's battle-line because of the dense- 
ness of the foliage ; but powder flashes from the opposing lines 
often told that they were but a few yards apart. 

After we had pushed them back a full mile, the battle-line of 
Ward's brigade was halted on the eastern edge of a swale, or low 
piece of ground, which was covered with the most dense growth 
of saplings I ever saw- The trunks were not larger than one's 



288 HISTORY OF THE 124TH NEW YORK VOLUNTEERS. 

wrist. They we're from eight to fifteen feet high, with no limbs 
or foliage except a small tuft of leaves on their extreme tops, and 
stood so closely together that it was only by pushing them apart 
that a man could make his way through them. The men of 
the 124th now caught sight of the enen^'s battle-line along 
their entire front ; and in the midst of this— as they at the time 
appropriately named it — hoop-pole forest, poured into that line such 
a destructive fire that a considerable number threw themselves on 
the ground and cried for quarter; whereupon a volunteer skirmish 
line was ordered out, and brought in upwards of twenty prisoners. 

The battle raged with fury to our right and left, and a brisk 
skirmish fire was kept up along our front until eight P. M., when 
both armies, as by mutual consent, ceased firing, and lay down 
for a few hours' rest preparatory to a renewal of the bloody con- 
test at an early hour in the morning. Full twelve thousand men 
lay dead, dying, or seriously wounded in those most dismal 
woods, and yet this was but the first scene of the first act of that 
bloody drama, called the Campaign of the Wilderness. The 124th 
had taken thirty-tv o prisoners, including one commissioned offi- 
cer. It had suffered no loss in prisoners captured or in men 
killed outright, but twenty-three of the best and bravest in 
its ranks had been severely wounded, a number of them mor- 
tally 

While several thousand of the weary troops, who had borne the 
brunt of the battle on the 5th, manned the picket lines, which ran 
so close together that the opposing videttes, for a distance of half a 
mile, are said to have filled their canteens from the opposite sides 
of a stream not ten feet wide ; and the remainder lay quietly sleep- 
ing, with their loaded weapons beside them, — and perhaps "dream- 
ing of loved ones at home" — the commanders-in-chief were in. 
consultation, at their respective headquarters, with their most 
trusted lieutenants. 

Lee resolved to assume the offensive at an early hour in the 
morning, and dispatched a messenger to Longstreet, whose ad- 
vance had bivouacked for the night several miles in rear of the 
battle-field, with an order which directed him to awaken his. 



IN THE WILDERNESS. 289 

sleeping men, move on to the front before daylight, and hold his 
command in readiness to participate iu the grand opening assault. 

Grant, after listening to the reports of Meade's corps com- 
manders, instructed Burnside to move forthwith to the front and 
close the gap between Warren and Hancock, and directed that a 
general advance be made at five a. m., — each corps attacking 
vigorously whatever it found in its front. 

The Union line faced toward the southwest, and, when fully 
formed, was about five miles in length. Sedgwick held position 
on the right, with his left flank resting near the Orange turnpike. 
Warren, with his right thrown across the pike, and Burnside, 
with his left reaching to within a quarter of a mile of the Orange 
plank-road, held the centre. The left, on which Grant and Meade 
rightly judged the principal part of the fighting would fall, was 
intrusted to Hancock, who was permitted to retain under his 
command, in addition to his own corps, the divisions of Getty and 
Wadsworth. 

Just what was before us no one in the Union army knew ; 
and many of our brigadiers if questioned as to where their own 
commands were, could have but pointed toward the front and 
answered "yonder." An officer, who rode the whole length of 
Hancock's position while the troops were preparing for action, 
stated that he tried in vain to discover a point from which he 
could get sight of two hundred feet of the line. 

It mattered but little who had the heaviest or greatest num- 
ber of guns, for the manoeuvering of artillery, save on the main 
roads, was entirely out of the question ; and even there it did 
not seem probable there would be an opportunity of using at any 
one time, in that vicinity, more than one or two batteries. 

Nothing of importance could be accomplished in such a field 
with cavalry, and Sheridan, with the bulk of his command, was 
consequently started off during the early part of the night, with 
orders to pass, by a wide detour, around the southern flanks of 
the two armies, and make a grand raid on the railroads and de- 
pots of supplies to the enemy's rear. 

The second day's battle in the Wilderness was to be fought, as 



290 HISTORY OP THE 124TH NEW YORK VOLUNTEERS. 

that of the first day had been, almost exclusively by infantry 
Again would the Union commanders be obliged to resort, in guid- 
ance of their unseen lines, to the use of the compass. Their situa- 
tion was like that of skilled mariners and naval officers in charge 
of a mighty fleet, heavily manned, but with guns dismounted, 
sailing in unknown waters on a murky night ; who should unex- 
pectedly find themselves confronted by almost as extensive 
and well-manned a fleet of foemen, in the same predicament as to 
guns, but sailing under native pilots ; and who could do no better 
than pipe all hands on deck, spread every sail, and attempt to run 
down or board and capture every vessel they came in contact 
with. Grant's order was, " Attack along the whole line at five 
o'clock." 

At five o'clock precisely the entire Union army was either in 
motion or grappling with the foe, for Lee had already opened the 
contest by a spirited assault on the extreme Union right. But 
his main object in attacking at that point w T as to attract attention 
from a more important enterprise — that of massing the bulk of 
his army for a grand attack on the Union left. He had need of 
more time. Longstreet, whose corps was to be united with that 
of Hill for the purpose named, did not, it appears, receive Lee's 
message until two a. m., and, though close at hand, was not yet 
in position. 

Hancock started a few minutes ahead of the prescribed time, 
and his advance was accelerated rather than retarded by the roar 
of battle off to his right. The 124th formed part of his advance 
line, w T hich soon came up to, attacked, and, in the words of the 
Confederate historian Pollard, " threw Heth's and Wilcox's divis- 
ions of Hill's corps in confusion, and pushed them back on Long- 
street's column, which had not yet deployed into line." 

In this advance the Orange Blossoms added fourteen to their 
list of prisoners captured from the foe ; one of them, a brave little 
captain, who, while attempting to rally his men only a few feet in 
front of our line, was collared and jerked back through our ranks 
by young Had. Turner, of Co. I, with such force that when his 
captor loosened his hold he fell to the ground in a sitting posture. 



IN THE WILDERNESS. 291 

striking so hard that his hat bounced from his head and hi? hair 
seemed to stand on end. 

After we had proceeded about a mile and a half, and while 
the foe were yet giving ground before that part of the line in 
front of Ward's brigade, a halt was ordered. Our regiment had 
lost in this advance about a dozen men, and had meantime passed 
over at least twenty of the enemy's dead. We did not cease fir- 
ing when the halt was ordered, but kept a continuous shower of 
lead raining through the woods toward where we supposed the 
battle-line of the foe to be ; for we could see nothing of it, though 
we were kept aware of its presence by the returning bullets, 
which continually sang about our ears, and occasionally felled to 
the ground one of our number. 

About nine o'clock Captain Sayer came to me, as T stood some 
ten feet in rear of the centre of the right wing, and reported that 
his company was about out of ammunition. I immediately 
ordered him to make the fact known to Colonel Cummins,and re- 
ceived in answer this reply, " Why, Colonel Cummins was carried 
to the rear fifteen minutes ago seriously, and I am afraid, mor- 
tally wounded." 

I could hardly believe it possible that the Colonel could have 
received a wound that was to end his services with the regiment, 
only a few feet from where I was standing, and have been carried 
from the field without my knowledge. And yet such was the 
case. It was only one of the many strange circumstances of that 
weird battle-field. When Birney's division was moving to the 
assistance of Mott on the afternoon of the 5th, General Alexan- 
der Hays, the commander of our first brigade, who, like Cummins, 
was a veteran of the Mexican war, was, while riding into action 
at the head of his brigade, struck down by a rebel bullet fired 
at random, and fell dead from his saddle, unseen by all save less 
than tw r enty of the two thousand men he was leading. 

A few hours after the fall of General Hays, Captain Nash, and 
a lieutenant, whose name I am unable to recall, both of Ward's 
staff, rode out to find our brigade line, which the former had 
visited only a short time before. They were accompanied by 



292 HISTORY OP THE 124TH NEW YORK VOLUNTEERS. 

Norman A. Sly and John R. Post, of the 124th, who were acting 
as their orderlies. There was between two of the regiments an 
opening of about fifty feet, through which the whole party unwit- 
tingly rode and ran into the enemy's line ; and the two officers 
were captured, while their orderlies, who rode but a few yards to 
their rear, taking the chances of having a volley fired after them, 
wheeled their horses and made their escape. Is it any wonder 
so little is known concerning the details of the battles of the 
Wilderness ? 

The enemy's ammunition must have run out simultaneously 
with that of Hancock's advance line. At all events, a few 
moments after I learned of the wounding of Colonel Cum- 
mins, their fire gradually slackened and soon almost entirely 
ceased. About eleven o'clock a supporting line, which was com- 
posed in part of Gibbin's division, came up to within a few feet of 
our advance line and starting small fires there, prepared and com- 
menced drinking coffee , seeing which our men, who had not yet 
had their breakfast, began asking permission to leave the ranks 
for the same purpose ; but knowing we were liable to be attacked 
at any moment, and that it was necessary for every man to re- 
main at his post ready for any emergency, T was obliged to deny 
them the privilege. 

But after the " white clubs " had finished their meal the com- 
mander of a regiment which was lying immediately behind the 
124th, kindly consented to exchange positions with us for a few 
moments, and immediate])' formed his command and moved to 
the front, while we fell back to, and began preparing our break- 
fast over, the fires his men had left burnine;. But before we had 
finished the meal a terrific racket broke out in the woods to our 
left, and bullets began- to fly thick and fast above and among us, 
passing lengthwise of the Union line. The grand assault which 
Lee had intended to make at an early hour in the morning had 
come at last, and was led by Lieut. Gen. Longstreet in person. 
Six lines deep they come, striking first Frank's brigade of Bar- 
low's division on its exposed left flank, and hurling it back in dis- 
order against the left of Mott's command, which was soon doubled 



IN THE WILDERNESS. 293 

up and disorganized ; and the men of the various brigades, regi- 
ments and companies became so inseparably mixed, that all efforts 
to re-form them there among the trees and brush, in face of Long- 
street's impetuous advance, proved unavailing. 

Hurrying the 124th into line, I caused it to change front to 
the left, so as to face toward whence the bullets came, and at- 
tempted to prevent the further spread of the disaster, but I might 
as well have tried to stop the flight of a cannon ball, by interpos- 
ing the lid of a cracker box. Back pell-mell came the ever swell- 
ing crowd of fugitives, and the next moment the Sons of Orange 
were caught up as by a whirlwind, and broken to fragments ; and 
the terrible tempest of disaster swept on down the Union line, 
beating back brigade after brigade, and tearing to pieces regiment 
after regiment, until upwards of twenty thousand veterans were 
fleeing, every man for himself, through the disorganizing and 
already blood-stained woods, toward the Union rear. 

The foe meantime pressed rapidly forward, lighting up the 
dim forest with powder flames which continually flashed from his 
smoke-enveloped line, like heat lightning from a cloudy horizon, 
and pouring into our disorganized host a continuous tire, so terri- 
ble in its effect as to leave the ground over which we passed 
strewn afresh with hundreds, yea, thousands of dead, wounded, 
and dying. Hancock's officers, in their frantic efforts to rally 
their men on a new line, planted their colors on nearly every 
rising piece of ground they came to; and, waving their swords 
and gnashing their teeth, shrieked the order, "Rally men, rally, 
for God and your country's sake, rally," but to no purpose. The 
colors were no sooner planted by those in front, than they were 
swept away, and in some instances trampled under foot, by those 
from the rear, who, while doing their best to get out of range of 
the enemy's bullets, continually echoed and re-echoed the Rally 
men, rally. 

At one place about a mile and a half in rear of the farthest 
point of our advance, on the banks of a little stream that ran 
through this vast, weird, horrible slaughter-pen, a skeleton line 
of mixed troops was partially formed ; and for a moment it 



294 HISTORY OF THE 124TH NEW YORK VOLUNTEERS. 

looked as if a sufficient number might be rallied there, to at least 
check the thus far almost undisputed advance of Longstreet's 
lines. Gathering a corporal's guard of the 124th about me, T 
sprang over the stream and, bidding my color-bearer (Corporal 
Washington Edwards) unfurl our flag, planted it on the half- 
formed line ; but almost the next moment a heavy" volley coming 
from the woods to our rear and left, told that a fresh and unex- 
pected body of the foe was close upon us, and away went our 
men again in an instant. I now became thoroughly disheartened, 
and, abandoning all hopes of gathering my command south of 
the Rapidan, sheathed my sword, and moved back* with the 
rabble. 

The enemy, when he had forced us back full two miles, sud- 
denly ceased firing. Our understanding of this fact at the time was, 
that the Confederate lines had become so broken and disorganized 
their commander deemed it expedient to halt and re-form them. 
It was not until the following day we learned that the real cause 
was the serious wounding of Longstreet — the head and front of 
the avalanche which had overwhelmed and well-nigh destroyed 
us. The fall, at that critical moment, of Lee's great lieutenant 
was, to say the least, an undisguised blessing to Grant's army. 

Thus far there were, in this disaster to the Union arms, four 
striking points of resemblance to remind one of Jackson's great 
flanking feat, in this same woods just a year before ; and it is 
very evident that Lee expected from it similar final results. But 
in this last particular he was grievously mistaken. In both in- 
stances he had placed the bulk of his army under the immediate 
command of, and left the entire details to, a lieutenant whom he 
rightly judged better qualified than himself for the work in hand. 
In both instances the result had been eminently all he could wish, 
so long as that lieutenant had remained in command. In both 
instances these great lieutenants had fallen at the head of their 
troops, when the tide of their victory was at- its highest flood. 
And in both instances it is claimed these Confederate chiefs were 
accidentally shot by their own troops. Now let us follow this 
day's work to its close, and compare results. 



IN THE WILDERNESS. 295 

About the time the enemy's bullets ceased falling among us, 
we came to a wood road which ran obliquely across and nearly 
parallel with, our line of retreat. The fleeing multitude, no 
longer spurred on by death's messengers, soon slackened its 
pace, and here on this road I again directed Corporal Edwards, 
who now constituted my entire command, to loosen his colors to 
the breeze ; and to my unspeakable delight, the men began to 
flock in from the woods on either side, and rally around their old 
flag again. Presently we saw General Birney and staff riding 
toward us. I now had with me, marching along in good order, 
about fifty men. When the General had arrived within thirty 
yards of the head of my little column, he drew rein by the side 
of the road, and his staff formed in line behind him. Turning 
toward my men I was about to bring them to a shoulder, that we 
might be ready to salute him as we passed ; but we did not have 
the pleasure of paying him that honor, for just then a shell — the 
first I heard that day — came screeching down the road, over 
our heads, and struck and exploded almost directly under his 
horse. And when the cloud of dust it raised had disappeared, 
his staff officers were gone, and the General — whose fiery steed had 
evidently become wholly unmanageable, and could be seen bound- 
ing from one side of the road to the other — was soon borne out 
of our sight. 

Half a mile farther on we came to a strip of slashing. Across 
this there suddenly loomed up a strong line of log breastworks, 
from the top of which several Union flags could be seen waving 
in the breeze, whereupon an old sailor in our ranks fitly ex- 
pressed the feelings of all by shouting, " Ship ahoy, land ahead, 
boys, land ahead ! " 

These works did not seem to be very heavily manned at that 
point, but scores of mounted men were riding rapidly up and 
down behind them. Quickening our pace, we soon passed in 
through an opening, and found ourselves again on the Brock 
road. Along the south-western side of this; there stretched as 
far as the eve could penetrate in either direction, one of the 
strongest lines of temporary works it ha-d ever been my fortune 



296 HISTOEY OF THE 124TH NEW YORK VOLUNTEERS. 

to stand behind. No more need of shouting " halt, men, halt," not 
a man crossed the road. Staff officers from the various brigades 
and divisions were there directing those who came in to the par- 
ticular portions of the works where their respective commands 
had been ordered to rally ; and all hurried off at a double-quick 
in the direction indicated, so that in an incredibly short space of 
time Hancock's command was substantially re-formed, re-supplied 
with ammunition, and ready for action. This wall of refuge in 
the Wilderness, conveyed to the army just what Grant's famous 
dispatch issued several days later said to the country : u l pro- 
pose to Jig hi it out on this line if it takes all summer.'" 

As soon as word reached Lee that Longstreet had fallen, he 
hurried to the front and took personal command of his assaulting 
column, which was now composed of nearly two-thirds of his en- 
tire army ; but it required full two hours for this most cautious 
chieftain to make ready for a renewal of the pursuit ; and when 
at length his bugles sounded the forward, Hancock was anxiously 
waiting to receive him. About three p. m. the Confederate ad- 
vance struck and immediately drove in our pickets, who had 
barely time to make their way through the slashing, and crawl 
over the works, ere their pursuers appeared in solid battle line, 
and the combat was re-opened with a terrific crash of riflery all 
along the lines; but so impetuous and persistent was the advance 
of the victorious foe, they were half-way through the slashing 
and within thirty yards of our works before we could bring them 
to a stand. 

Occasionally one of our number would fall dead — pierced 
through the brain — or be carried to the rear wounded in the 
head, hand, or shoulder. Beyond this the rapid fire of the foe 
had but slight effect on our line, behind its bullet-proof cover ; 
over the top of which we, with deliberate aim, hurled into their 
exposed but unwavering line an incessant and most deadly fire. 
Again and yet again did their shattered regiments in our front 
close on their colors, while fresh troops from the rear moved up 
and filled the gaps. 

Grant, in his conduct of that great campaign, which had then 



IN THE WILDERNESS. 297 

but just begun, — and which a famous historian truthfully says 
stands unequaled by any on record, in the elements that make 
war grand, terrible, and bloody — has been stigmatized as " The 
butcher who thought but little, and cared less for the lives of his 
men ; " while Lee has ever been regarded as a general who, above 
all others, was most chary of the lives of those under him. But 
certainly in this instance the epithet butcher, if applied to either, 
should rest on Lee. Yet the valor and stubborn resistance the 
Confederates that afternoon displayed, came by an accident very 
near being signally rewarded. 

During the contest the woods between the lines, at a short 
distance to the left of Ward's brigade, took fire. And just when 
the enemy — after having withstood our deadly volleys for over 
an hour — began to show signs of exhaustion, and a Union force 
was being made ready for a charge when the critical moment 
should arrive, a strong wind suddenly sprang up, and carried the 
fire to our log breastworks, along which the flames spread with 
wonderful rapidity. Several regiments to the left of the 124th, 
unable to withstand the heat and smoke, abandoned the works, 
though several individual members of these commands remained 
until their hair was singed, for the smoke and flames were blown 
directly into their faces. Presently huge clouds of strong black 
pine smoke, such as almost eats one's eyes out, rolled over and 
completely enveloped our regiment. 

At this critical moment the Confederates rushed up and oc- 
cupied the deserted works to our left; seeing which the Union 
reserve, posted as a second line about fifty yards to our rear, 
opened fire, and, supposing our regiment had moved down the 
road to the right, or fallen back behind them, with the regiments 
which had been stationed on our left, sent a volley right into the 
cloud of smoke which hid us from their view. Fortunately their 
aim was so high that the most of their bullets passed over our 
heads- 
General Ward had, for half an hour or more, been sitting on 
a log or pacing to and fro, about ten paces behind the centre of 
our regiment, and had not yet left us. Up to that moment he 



298 HISTORY OF THE 124TH NEW YORK VOLUNTEERS. 

had not spoken a word to any one, but when he heard these bul- 
lets from the rear whistling so close to his ears, he turned to me 

with the order, " Take your regiment to the rear of those 

," and walked rapidly away. As we passed over the second 



line which was lying in shallow rifle-pits, I looked back and there 
floating on the works just where ours had been, could be seen, 
through the smoke, a Confederate battle-flag. A moment later 
we heard, above the roar of riflery, the crashing thunder of 
artillery . 

A determined charge in front of an opening in the works 
about twenty rods to our right, had cleared the way for a bat- 
tery which had been run out and placed in such a position as to 
rake the outer face of our breastworks, which, for the distance 
of full seventy rods, ran perfectly straight ; and were now heavily 
manned with Confederate troops. As soon as these batterymen, 
with guns double shotted with canister, began mowing down the 
foe, our infantry rushed back to the now blackened and smoking 
works — for the flames, having consumed the most combustible 
portion of the dry bark from the logs, had subsided— and opened 
a most deadly fire into the very faces of the bleeding foe on the 
opposite side. Presently the batterymen were ordered to cease 
firing, when, with a tremendous shout, over the works rushed the 
Union line with clubbed muskets, swords, and bayonets, right at 
the now totally demoralized Confederates, who broke for the rear, 
and fled in the wildest disorder across the slashing and down 
through the woods again ; and, so we were informed by prisoners 
captured the next day, did not halt to re-form their lines until 
they were back on the very ground they started from in the 



morning. 



The day was now so far spent that the Union generals did 
not think it expedient to attempt to pursue the fleeing enemy 
A strong picket line was, however, thrown out and advanced 
half a mile or more, without encountering any opposition. 

As soon as the smoke lifted and the roar of battle died away, 
we very naturally began looking about us, and the sight which 
met our gaze was horrible beyond description. Quite a number 



IN THE WILDERNESS. 299 

of Confederate dead and seriously wounded, lay inside the works, 
while the ground outside of them was literally covered with the 
mangled bodies of their dead and dying ; together with a consid- 
erable number who, to escape death feigned it, and dropping down 
among the corpses of their comrades, remained there until dis- 
covered by our men and made prisoners. Thus ended the second 
day's battle of the Wilderness, so far as Hancock's command was 
concerned. Some two hours later, however, Sedgwick's corps 
was attacked in flank, and suffered heavily in loss of prisoners. 
And when darkness finally put an end to the day's work of death, 
the two mighty wrestlers, all covered with w T ounds and gore, lay 
down, too much exhausted to rest ; on substantially the same 
ground they had respectively occupied previous to the opening of 
that day's battle. 

We spent the night sitting or lying on the roadside, with our 
weapons close beside us, ready to spring to our feet and man the 
works in front at a moment's notice ; and many confidently ex- 
pected that an order to advance and again engage the foe 
would reach them at an early hour in the morning ; but they 
were mistaken. The dread contest was not to be renewed on 
that weird field, o'er which twenty-five thousand dead or wounded 
contestants were now scattered amid the bleaching bones of for- 
mer comrades in arms. 

This mysterious, sanguinary conflict of two days' duration — 
this most desperate struggle in the wild forest, between mighty 
armies, the lines of which no one saw ; and which were only to 
be traced in their continued changes throughout the contest by 
the thunder crash of riflery and the shouts of the hidden, grap- 
pling contestants, was to go into history as an unfinished or drawn 
battle. There graduates of the same military school had met for 
the first time as commanders of opposing armies, and each it 
would seem had misunderstood the character and under-estimated 
the fighting qualities of the other. Lee had been aware of the 
fact that Grant had a slight advantage in the number of men 
under him, but he regarded that as of but little consequence in 
that weird, tangled, and to his opponent unknown wilderness. 



300 HISTORY OF THE 124TH NEW YORK VOLUNTEERS. 

Grant knew very well that Lee was thoroughly acquainted with 
the dismal woods through which he had resolved to pass, but to 
that fact he attached very little weight, for the fighting of a 
battle there was no part of his programme, but 

" The best laid schemes o' mice and men, 
Gang aft a-g]ey." 

Grant, unexpectedly finding his advance disputed by Lee's army, 
had gathered up his mighty host and made a most determined 
and desperate effort to crush his adversary in this very Wilder- 
ness ; but, because of that adversary's superior knowledge of the 
field, he had after a bloody struggle of two days' duration, and a 
loss of fifteen thousand men, been compelled to admit that he had 
been forced into undertaking what he could not accomplish. And 
Lee, who had essayed to paralyze the new Union commander as 
he had Hooker a year before, and then by bold desperate flank 
attacks so demoralize our entire army that he might at his leisure 
drive it back over, or hurl it into, the Rapidan, had at length, 
after suffering a loss almost equal to that of his foes, given up 
the impossible task, owing in part at least to his opponent's slight 
advantage in numbers. And there they stood throughout the 
third day, behind the strong works of their respective lines — for 
Lee's army had spent the night erecting breastworks — each ready 
to receive battle, but neither minded to attack ; and the thought 
of retreat foreign to both. 

About two o'clock that afternoon, May 7th, Hancock riding 
along by Ward's brigade, directed that a regiment be sent out to 
gather up the rifles and muskets that lay scattered along its front. 
The 124th was selected for this purpose, and in less than an hour 
we must have collected at least fifteen hundred stand of arms, fre- 
quently drawing them from under the dead bodies of the men who 
had carried them ; and in several instances unclasping, with not 
a little difficulty, the cold, clammy fingers which had tightened 
about them when their owners were in the last agonies of death. 

At five o'clock I received a detail calling for two commissioned 
officers and forty enlisted men for picket duty ; and an hour later 



IN THE WILDERNESS. 



301 



these were moving through the woods on their way to the front, 
prepared to spend the night pacing to and fro in the gloom, amid 
the putrid bodies of friends and foes — for only those who had 
fallen nearest the works had been buried — listening to every un- 
usual sound and watching the movements of every shadow, not 
knowing at what moment a body of the foe might be discovered 
stealing toward them. 

The result of the Battle of the Wilderness as compared with the 
result of the Battle of Chancellorsville, has been tersely stated 
by one of our most able historians in substantially these 
words : " Hooker fought the Battle of Chancellorsville and went 
backward ; Grant fought the Battle of the Wilderness, and went 
— forward. " 

LIST OF KILLED AND WOUNDED OF THE 124TH, AT THE 
BATTLES OF THE WILDERNESS. 

COLONEL F. M. CUMMINS— Wounded. 



COMPANY 


A. 




COMPANY 


D. 




Jacob Wilson. 




.Killed 


Sergt. Ebenezer Holbert 




. Wounded 


Joseph F. Simpson. 




Wounded 






" 


Leonard L. Jackson. 




" 


John Edwards 


* 


" 


James McGratli 




tt 


M. Mc. Morris. 




. 


John McGratli 




" 


George W- Decker. 




" 


Frank B. Gallow f . . 




ct 


Garrett Decker. 

John Raymond 




<• 


COMPANY 


B. 




S. W. Garrison 




I i 


Corp. Simon Bellis. 
John Morgan 




. Wounded 


James H. Clark 

Daniel P Payne. 
William H. Dill 




i i 






" 


Thomas Morgan. .... 
E. M. Carpenter 


Benjamin Grey 




i( 


Joseph Bross 












James Lewis 

John Payne. 

Jesse Hunter 




<( 


COMPANY 

Joseph H. Johnson. 
Solomon Carr. 


E. 


Wounded 


COMPANY 


C. 










Corp. Andrew M. Boyd. . 




.... Killed 


COMPANY 


F. 




Corp. James P Moulton. 




. . Wounded 






Wounded 


John H. Blair. 




" 






1 1 



f Slightly wounded — remained on duty. 



302 HISTORY OF THE 124TH NEW YORK VOLUNTEERS. 



COMPANY G. 

Sergt. S. T. Estabrook . 

Harvey Brock. 

John J. Taylor. 

John Trainer. 

W H. Trainer. .. 

Hector Finney 

Henry Dill . . . 



COMPANY H. 

Corp. Benjamin Dutcher 
Sekgt. Thomas W. Bradley 
Sergt. Clark B. Gallation f 

Lyman Fairchild 

Josiali Dawson 

Daniel Carman 

Gov. M. Legg 

William H. Brown f. 



Wounded 



. Killed 
.Wounded 



COMPANY I. 

Fikst Sergt. W. W Smith Wounded 

Sergt. A. T. Vanderlyn 

Corp. Joseph Hanna 

Corp. Whitmore Terwilliger. 

William Milligan 

Rensselaer D. Baird 

John Gordon 

Mathe w Manney 

COMPANY K. 

Sergt. W W Parsons Wounded 

Cornelius Crans. . . " 

Brigade Color-Bearer 
Norman A. Sly, of D f .. Wounded 



Total Casualties. 



60 



f Slightly wounded — remained on duty. 



ON THROUGH THE WILDERNESS. 303 



CHAPTER XVI. 

ON THROUGH THE WILDERNESS. AT SPOTTSYLVANIA C. H. 

DURING- the forenoon of the 7th, General Grant became 
thoroughly satisfied that General Lee was preparing to 
receive battle, rather than planning an offensive movement ; and 
he resolved to make forthwith another attempt to extricate his 
army from the dense Wilderness into which his wily antagonist 
had entangled it. Our immense trains were accordingly sent to 
Chancellorsville, and there parked for the night ; and as soon as 
darkness closed about us a general movement of troops was be- 
gun; but just where our objective point was located, no one save 
the enemy and those high in authority seemed to know. 

During the evening the Fifth Corps passed by where our regi- 
ment was lying — moving along the Brock Road toward the left — • 
and about midnight our division was withdrawn from the works, 
and conducted along the same road toward the right ; but we had 
not proceeded more than two miles, when a countermarch was 
ordered, and we were hurried back to, and directed to re-occupy, 
the same position behind the breastworks that we had been with- 
drawn from. 

May 8th. — There was considerable picket firing along our 
front yesterday and last night ; and at early daylight this morn- 
ing I was awakened to read and sign the following circular order 
from Brigade Headquarters : " You will cause your command to 
be awakened immediately, and see that your men prepare and eat 
their breakfast without delay ; marching orders may reach you at 
any moment." Twenty minutes later our blankets were rolled, 
and the air was freighted with the aroma of boiling coffee. We 
had not enjoyed more than two hours' repose on our soft beds of 
mother earth ; for it was after two o'clock when we returned from 



304 HISTORY OF THE 124TH NEW YORK VOLUNTEERS. 

our midnight tramp ; and it could not have been later than four 
o'clock when the order to turn out reached us. As soon as my 
men had partaken of their early breakfast — composed exclusively 
of hard-tack and coffee — they were permitted to lie down again, 
with their accoutrements buckled, their weapons beside them, and 
their rolled blankets under their heads ; and thus the majority of 
them slept soundly until eight o'clock. Then the expected " fall 
in " was passed down the line, and springing to our feet we were 
ready for the " forward," which came a moment later, when we 
started off, following the direction the Fifth Corps had taken. 

" Last night we were fooling the Johnnies, but this time we 
mean business — mind what I am telling j'ou," one of my old men 
remarked to a recruit ; and the reply came, " Who, the Yanks or 
the Rebs ? " To which the first speaker replied, " Both, I reckon." 
And then a dozen voices made earnest answer -: " You're right old 
boy." After these remarks the men of my leading companies 
remained comparatively quiet for half an hour or more. A very 
noticeable fact, for when moving along at route step, as we were 
then marching, banters and jokes usually fly thick and fast. At 
length some one, who was marching just behind me, re-opened 
the conversation with, " I say Joe, this little chap from out West 
— I don't believe he knows when he's whipped. If it hadn't been 
for his coming along with us we would have been back to our old 
camp again by this time. To be sure, we got thrashed from ivay 
back at Fredericksburg, under Burnside ; but Fighting Joe took 
us back from Chancellorsville before we were half-whipped, and 
Meade, you know, marched us back from Mine Run without fight- 
ing us at all to speak of. It's my opinion we got whipped like 
the mischief the other day, what do you think about it ? " " Got 
whipped ! " replied the soldier questioned, " How do you make 
that out ? Do the Johnnies usually cry quit, and retreat when 
they have whipped us ? Not much they don't. You might as 
well say we got licked at Gettysburg. I'll just bet you a plug 
of tobacco and a briarvvood pipe, that this army never re-crosses 
the Rapidan until we go home to stay ! " 

Such short, pungent arguments as the above, between the 



ON THROUGH THE WILDERNESS. 305 

fighting men of the army, who are so often misnamed the com- 
mon soldiers, always attracted my attention ; and I fell into the 
habit of jotting them down in my diary as T rode along. I can 
not tell just why I did it, but now as I look over these notes in 
the light of subsequent experience, I am frequently astonished 
at the wisdom, sound judgment, and accurate forecast of events 
contained therein. 

That 8th day of May was exceedingly warm, and when we 
had marched about two miles the column was halted, and our bri- 
gade filed into an open field near an old frame house, and remained 
there about an hour. Then we returned to the road and marched 
on two miles further, when we were again halted near another 
dwelling, called Todd's Tavern. During this last short march 
several of our men were sun-struck. Presently a refreshing 
breeze sprang up, which, while it cooled our heated brows, 
brought to our ears the thunder of distant battle. Then came 
orders directing the formation of a battle line through the woods 
across, and at right angles with, the road ; and Birney's division 
filed to the right, and took up a position among some tall pines, 
and, after establishing a picket line along our front, we set to 
building breastworks. This occupied our time until four o'clock, 
when we rested from our labors, very tired and hungry too, for 
we had not eaten anything since morning. Twenty "minutes, 
however, sufficed for the cooking and eating of our late dinner, 
and then a general gathering of pine feathers was begun, in an- 
ticipation of a comfortable night's rest ; for the noise of battle had 
ceased, and all believed their day's work had been fully accom- 
plished. But about five o'clock this bed-making business was 
brought to a sudden close by the whistling of bullets among the 
trees, and the rattle of riflery along our picket line. Whereupon 
all hands dropped their pine boughs, grasped their weapons, and 
hurried to the works. 

The pickets in our immediate front were speedily driven in, 
and before they were fairly over the works, a body of Confederate 
dismounted cavalrymen came charging through the woods toward 
our fortified line. But a well-directed fire soon caused these foot 



306 HISTORY OF THE 124TH NEW YOKE VOLUNTEERS. 

horsemen to right about and "charge, boldly charge " the other 
way ; whereupon our pickets, suddenly becoming very brave, 
bounded over the works again, and rushed back to their posts, 
gathering in as they advanced some twenty able-bodied, and a 
considerable number of wounded prisoners. After the excite- 
ment of this affair had died away, those of our number whose 
turn it was to sleep, finished their beds and lay down on them 
well content ; and the night passed without further disturbance. 

The following extract is from the official report of the doings 
of our brigade on the 9th : "At about three p. m. marched toward 
Spottsylvania C. H. The 20th Ind. and 124th N Y Vols, were, 
by direction of Major-General Birney commanding division, thrown 
out as skirmishers for the division, and the 99th Pa. Vols, was 
dispatched toward the ford of Po River, to intercept the crossing 
of the enemy, who it was supposed was retreating in that direc- 
tion, from our skirmishers. In the meantime the brigade was 
massed under cover of a hill, preparatory to crossing the river. 
Our skirmishers met with but little opposition at the ford, and 
crossed at once, capturing a few prisoners from the rear guard 
of the enemy " 

In this movement to and across the Po River, which, at the 
ford referred to, was about twenty feet wide, and from six to 
eighteen inches deep, our skirmish line marched about eight 
miles in less than three hours ; during which we occasionally 
exchanged a few shots with the enemy's rear guard, but encoun- 
tered no serious opposition. We did not see any considerable 
numbers of the foe until we began to descend into the valley 
through which the Po ran. Here we found a small Union regi- 
ment, which had been sent forward on a flanking expedition from 
General Mott's division, actively engaged with a body of the 
enemy, which had made a stand on the farther bank of the river. 
As we hurried forward down the slope, to the assistance of this 
command at the ford, we passed over a considerable number of 
dead and wounded soldiers of both armies. Presently, when we 
had arrived at a point within one hundred yards of the river, a 
Confederate battery was opened on us. I do not remember ever 



ON THEOUGH THE WILDERNESS. 307 

having heard guns fired with greater rapidity Fortunately for 
our advancing line, their aim was just high enough to carry the 
screeching shells over our heads ; but alas, not a few of them 
struck, and exploded right among the poor wounded fellows we 
had just passed over. The thunder of discharge and explosion, 
added to the rattle of small arms now gave the affair the sem- 
blance of a battle of considerable magnitude. But it was of short 
duration, for the troops at the ford, who had thus far done all the 
fighting, while very thankful for our timely support, were not 
minded to have the honor of routing the enemy grasped from 
them ; and before our advancing line reached the river, they, with 
a wild charging shout, rushed forward through the water at the 
foe, who, instead of waiting to cross bayonets with these resolute 
fellows, about faced and ran for dear life across an open field, and 
soon disappeared in the woods beyond. 

The capture of this noisy battery, which was posted in plain 
sight on a little knoll some forty rods to the right and rear of 
where the enemy's battle line had been, now became the imme- 
diate object of our ambition. But unfortunately — or perhaps for- 
tunately for some of us — our skirmishers no sooner appeared on 
the southern shore than these Confederate artillerists, evidently 
thinking existing circumstances were such as rendered discre- 
tion, in their case, the better part of valor, ceased firing. Then 
mounting, and putting whip and spur to their teams, hurried out 
of range of our bullets, and galloped on to some safe retreat, 
out of our sight. 

As I rode past the wounded on the hillside, to whom reference 
has already been made, I saw, moving about among them a Ger- 
man vivandier. Now I had never before seen a woman on the 
battle-field, and when the shells were falling thick and fast among 
these prostrate men, I looked back to see what effect their ex- 
ploding would have on her; and to my surprise she was sitting 
on the ground, apparently unmindful of danger, holding her can- 
teen to the lips of a prostrate Union soldier, whose head rested 
on her shoulder. We encamped in the woods that night some 
two miles beyond the ford. 



308 HISTORY OF THE 124TH NEW YORK VOLUNTEERS. 

May \§th. — We ate breakfast before daylight this mornino- 
and about nine o'clock were in motion again. Our brigade moved 
back to and re-crossed the Po River, and, after halting half an hour 
on the northern shore, marched to the right, about a mile, and re- 
lieved a brigade of Warren's men, whom we found posted behind 
light earthworks which had evidently been erected during the 
night. We now formed part of a new main line, which we soon 
learned had been posted there to confront Lee's army Holding 
a strongly fortified position on the heights about Spottsylvania 
C. H., he was defying our further advance in that direction. 

General Grant, referring to this movement from the Wilder- 
ness to Spottsylvania C. EL, in his official report, says : " On the 
morning of the 7th, reconnoissances showed that the enemy had 
fallen behind his intrenched lines, with pickets to the front, cov- 
ering a part of the battle-field. From this it was evident to my 
mind . that he would wait an attack behind his works. I 

therefore determined to push on and put my whole force between 
him and Richmond ; and orders were at once issued for a move- 
ment by his right flank But the enemy having become 
apprised of our movement, and having a shorter line, was enabled 
to reach there first." 

Throughout the forenoon of the 10th, a desultory skirmish 
fight, emphasized occasionally by a volley of riflery or a few 
rapid discharges from some battery of light guns, told that the 
two lines were again so close together, the opposing armies were 
able to watch the movements of each other. That another general 
engagement was imminent, no one doubted ; and those of us who 
were in the woods lay on the ground hour after hour, listening 
for such a crashing, heavy peal of battle thunder as would indi- 
cate the opening onset. 

Hancock's corps now formed the Union right, and the bulk of 
it held position on high ground that overlooked Po River. His 
most advanced videttes were engaged with those of Hill's com- 
mand. Warren, whose corps composed the right center, kept a 
part of his command busy throwing up earthworks, while he was 
with the balance, preparing to assault the enemy's fortified posi- 



ON THROUGH THE WILDERNESS. 309 

tion to his front, which he evidently believed was not yet very 
heavily manned. The Sixth corps came up and took position on 
the left of Warren, so close to the enemy that a considerable 
number of its members were killed while going into line, among 
them its brave and noble commander, General Sedgwick, who, 
while superintending the posting of one of his batteries, and 
laughing at one of his men who was unable to resist the impulse 
to cringe a little when the enemy's bullets passed very close to 
his head, was struck in the face, and expired instantly Burn- 
side had been ordered to take position on the left of Sedgwick's 
Corps. 

During the early part of the afternoon several unsuccessful 
attempts were made, by detached bodies of the corps of both 
Warren and Hancock, to carry various portions of the enemy's 
formidable works. In these attacks the 12f th was not called to 
participate. But about four o'clock a grand assault by the entire 
left wing of Grant's army was ordered. The position we were to 
attempt to carry, is thus described by General Hancock in his 
official report : " This was, perhaps, the most formidable point 
along the enemy's whole front. Its densely wooded crest was 
crowned by earthworks, while the approach, which was swept by 
artillery and musketry fire, was rendered more difficult and haz- 
ardous by a heavy growth of low cedars, mostly dead, the long 
bayonet-like branches of which, interlaced and pointing in all 
directions, presented an almost impassable barrier to the advance 
of a line of battle." 

The 124th, about two p. m., marched to the extreme right of 
Hancock's line, to support a battery there posted. After remain- 
ing with the battery half an hour, we received orders to return 
forthwith to our original position behind the works. At half- 
past four we moved, in company with our entire division, toward 
the left. After proceeding in that direction about a mile, we were 
halted at the base of a thickly wooded hill, and there formed for 
the assault. Vast bodies of troops could be seen going into po- 
sition on either side of us. The regiments of Ward's brigade 
were massed in column in the following order, so close together 



310 HISTORY OF THE 124TH NEW YORK VOLUNTEERS. 

that the field officers were obliged to take position on the flanks 
of their respective commands : 

86tli New York Volunteers. 

3rd Maine Volunteers. 

124th New York Volunteers. 

99tli Penn. Volunteers. 

141st Penn. Volunteers. 

20th Indiana Volunteers. 
110th Penn. Volunteers. 

40th New \ork Volunteers. 

Just after we had completed our formation, General Crawford, of 
Warren's corps, came walking along the front, accompanied by 
several of his staff. He was gesticulating in an excited manner, 
and, on looking toward our solid column, wrung his hands, and 
exclaimed in a tone of intense anguish : " This is sheer madness," 
and then looking to the front continued, addressing a member of 
his staff : " I tell you this is sheer madness, and can only end in 
wanton slaughter and certain repulse." 

Then came a half-hour of weary waiting, during which our 
minds were filled with anxious forebodings of coming evil and 
transitory hopes that, as darkness was fast approaching, the doubt- 
ful undertaking would after all be deferred until morning, or per- 
haps, abandoned altogether. But at length the order " move for- 
ward " was given, and off, up the hill, at a rapid gait we started, 
tearing our way through the brush, leaping across ditches, and 
clambering over felled trees. Presently we came upon and drove 
in the enemy's pickets, whose bullets, fired as they fled to give 
warning of our approach, felled to the earlh several gallant men 
of the 86th. The expected storm of battle now opened with 
horrid crash and roar, to right and left. And soon from front as 
well, the sound of riflery burst forth. But onward and upward, 
tumbling into ditches, tripped by tangling vines, lacerated by 
springing branches and pierced and torn by the dry pointed 
cedars, — onward, right onward through the gathering gloom, 
filled with whizzing, whistling bullets, we forced our way. 

Anon the dim outlines of what appeared to be a heavy earthen 
breastwork loomed up before us, and the commanders of the three 



ON THROUGH THE WILDERNESS. 311 

leading regiments, which had become so intermixed that they 
had to be handled as one body, rushed to the front, shouting the 
charge, each determined that his standard should be the first one 
planted on the enemy's works. A moment more and we were 
through the abatis, when lo, a very fort instead of simple earth- 
works frowned upon us, while at our feet yawned a deep ditch 
about twenty feet wide, half-full of water. A single volley suf- 
ficed to clear the ramparts of their sharp-shooters there posted, 
but from within came the sound of voices of artillery officers, 
giving commands which told of a coming shower we had no de- 
sire to breast, and could not then escape by flight. 

The best and only thing to be done, was to hug the earth as 
closely as possible, until the first and severest blast had swept 
over us. The order lie down was obeyed with alacrity We 
were not a moment too soon, for just then we heard the Confed- 
erate command " fire," and out leaped the powder flames ; and 
over us passed a volley of canister which made the very earth 
beneath us seem to shiver, and sent to their last home a score or 
more of men from the regiments behind us, which had been halted 
to re-form their lines at the lower end of the abatis, some fifty 
yards away. The commanders of these rear regiments, compre- 
hending the situation of affairs at the front, about faced their 
commands and hastened down the hill, followed by a continuous 
fire of shot and shell which made fearful havoc among them. 
Presently the Confederate artillerymen slackened their fire, but 
we knew it was only to depress their pieces ; and springing to 
our feet we retraced our steps to the base of the hill, where we 
spent the night in line of battle. 

The charging columns to our right and left, were even less 
successful than Ward's brigade, and their losses were infinitely 
greater. The repulse of Hancock and Warren was complete and 
most disastrous along the entire line. The Union losses in these 
assaults are stated, on competent authority, to have been full} 
five thousand men, while that of the enemy did not exceed as 
many hundred. The 124th in this disastrous affair was pecu- 
liarly fortunate, losing but four men — all wounded. 



312 HISTOEY OF THE 124TH NEW YORK VOLUNTEERS. 

As a slight offset to the terrible losses of the Second and 
Fifth corps in these assaults, that never should have been made, 
a detached brigade of the Sixth, had during the afternoon suc- 
ceeded in capturing, with but trifling loss to itself, about eight 
hundred prisoners. 

The Confederate fortifications which we had attempted at such 
fearful cost to carry by direct assault, had been erected months 
before ; and were in many particulars more formidable than the 
line at Fredericksburg, against which Burnside had hurled to their 
destruction so many of his best regiments, in December, '63. But 
General Grant had started out on this campaign with the asser- 
tion, " Oh, I never manoeuvre," and now that he had pounded in 
vain, to his heart's content against Lee's left, he resolved to try 
what could be accomplished by a sudden sally against the 
Confederate right centre, where it was said a more inviting point 
of attack presented itself. 

For this operation Hancock's corps was selected, and just after 
nightfall on the 11th, we set out on a journey toward what was 
known as the Brown house, in front of which that portion of the 
Confederate works to be assaulted was situated. 

Orders were issued commanding that the strictest silence be 
maintained in the ranks, and instructing all officers to refrain 
from speaking above a whisper, in directing the movements of 
their troops. And oh, what a dreary, tedious movement it was! 
A drizzling rain had been falling all the afternoon, and continued 
to fall at intervals throughout the night. 

We crept along, a, step at a time, hour after hour. Since the 
fall of Colonel Cummins I had hardly closed my eyes, and an 
irresistible desire to sleep now stole over me, despite the most 
determined efforts of my will to ward it off. My men had been 
kept under arms the night before, and many of them the night 
before that as well, so that they too were absolutely unable to 
remain awake. And yet their sense of hearing was in no wise 
blunted, even in the midst of their fitful slumbers. They would 
invariably drop to the ground, and instantly fall asleep whenever 
the column halted; but the moment the troops ahead of them 



ON THROUGH THE WILDERNESS. 313 

started they would spring to their feet without orders, and march 
on until the column halted ag;iin. Our horses even, were seized 
with the same irresistible desire to close their weary eyes ; and 
with their noses almost touching the ground, would weave to and 
fro like drunken men. 

I had never before suffered such acute agony from any cause ; 
my eves would close, do what I would to prevent it; and, in order 
to escape a fall from my horse, I would lean forward and wind my 
arms about his neck, but the poor brute's head would invariably 
sink lower and lower, until I would feel myself sliding head fore- 
most toward the earth, at which with a desperate effort, I would 
straighten up sufficiently to be able to make such a tug at the 
reins, and such a poke with my spurs, as to arouse my usually 
spirited, but now most docile beast. But the very next mo- 
ment my eyelids would drop again, and presently I would feel 
the poor brute's bod)' weave, and his legs tremble as if he was 
about to fall. Then again T would dismount and attempt to hold 
myself up, bv throwing my arm over the animal's neck ; and 
leaning against his breast, or else grasping hold of and resting 
my forehead on the saddle. But in these efforts too, I failed 
of success, for down would go his head, or else I would feel his 
body giving way and myself going down. 

About two a. m. my adjutant (Lieutenant Van Houten) rode 
up to me with a canteen which he said, as he handed it to me, 
contained some very poor commissary whisky, and added "but 
it is the very best I can get.'' Under any other circumstances I 
should have told him to take away the vile stuff, but on this oc- 
casion I grasped the proffered canteen most eagerly ; but instead 
of drinking from it, poured out as much as I could hold in the 
palm of one hand, and dashed it in my eyes. But even that did 
not keep me awake more than ten minutes. 

A half-hour later several men belonging to one of our New 
York regiments, — the 86th, I think, — which was marching just 
ahead of the 124th. coming to what appeared to be a marshy 
place, moved to the side of the road in search of water; but failing 
to find any, and the column not being in motion, one of them 



314 HISTORY OF THE 124TH NEW YORK VOLUNTEERS. 

sat down on a fence and, falling asleep, tumbled off and broke his 
neck. The surgeon of his regiment being close at hand, hurried 
to the spot, and after a short examination, simply asked, " Who is 
it ? " for it was so dark he could not tell positively, and then pro- 
nounced life extinct beyond the shadow of a doubt, and moved 
away In less than ten minutes from the time the unfortunate 
man sat down on the fence his comrades were digging his grave. 

At another time when the column was at a halt and the road 
was covered with sleeping men, a horse having become frightened 
by falling down when asleep, sprang to his feet and started off at 
a run down the road, over the sleeping men, a number of whom 
were severely injured by being trodden upon, before he could be 
caught. This thoroughly aroused the entire brigade, and caused 
something of a stampede, yet very little noise was made; and as 
soon as the injured men could be gathered up and started back 
toward the ambulances, we resumed our marching by jerks again, 
and as before dropped to sleep the very instant the troops ahead 
halted. At length seven hours after we had started, and during 
which we had made but three and a half miles, the head of our 
column reached, and was halted in, the field where our formation 
for the charge was to be made. 

Before attempting to trace in detail the part taken by the 
124th, in the most successful charge ever made by Hancock's 
famous corps, and the bloody and protracted contest over the 
possession of the captured works which followed, let us endeavor 
to get a correct conception of the more general phases of the 
battle. 

Greeley, in his American Conflict, tells the story of the charge 
and fighting of Hancock's Corps in this wise : " When morning 
came, the rain had given place to a fog of exceeding density, 
under cover of which Hancock sternly advanced, in two lines ; 
Barlow's and Birney's divisions forming the first; Gibbon's and 
Mott's the second. Before them was a salient angle of earthworks 
held by Edward Johnston's division of E well's corps. Swiftly, 
noiselessly sweeping over the rugged, difficult, thickly wooded 
intervening space — some twelve hundred yards, Barlow's and 



ON THROUGH THE WILDERNESS. 315 

Birney's divisions dashed, with a thundering cheer, over the front 
and flank of the enemy's works, surprising and overwhelming the 
rebels in their trenches, and capturing Johnston with most of his 
division; also Brigadier-General George H. Stewart and part of 
two brigades ; also thirty guns. The number of prisoners cap- 
tured and sent to the rear was over three thousand. Hancock 
wrote in pencil to Grant : ' I have captured from thirty to forty 
guns. I have finished up Johnston, and am going into Early ' 
He had in fact, though he did not know it, all but captured Lee 
himself, and had nearly cut the rebel army in two. But the sur- 
prise was now over, and the rally of the rebels was prompt and 
vigorous. Their case was desperate — for defeat was now an- 
nihilation — and' they fought with invincible ardor and resolution. 
Cutler's and Griffin's divisions were detached from War- 
ren and sent to the aid of Hancock, who still held fast to the cap- 
tured work, but could not go beyond it; wdiile Lee made five 
successive and desperate assaults on him, with intent to hurl him 
back; the men fighting hand to hand, with their respective flags 
often planted on the opposite sides of the same breastwork. These 
assaults were all repelled with frightful carnage ; but Hancock was 
unable to advance, as he had expected to do. and ultimately got 
off but twenty of the captured guns. Rain set in again at noon ; 
but the fighting continued till near midnight, when it was termi- 
nated by Lee's desisting and leaving Hancock in possession of his 
hard won prize." 

Coppee, in his work entitled Grant and his Campaigns, writes, 
— " Silently and unseen, the corps moved upon the unsuspecting 
enemy. They passed over the rugged and densely wooded space, 
the enthusiasm growing at every step, until with a terrible charge 
and a storm of cheers, they reached the enemy's works, scaled 
them in front and flank, surprising the rebels at their breakfast, 
surrounding them, and capturing Edward Johnston's entire divis- 
ion, with its general ; two brigades of other troops, with their 
commander, Brigadier-General George H. Stewart, and thirty 
guns. The number of prisoners taken was between three and 
four thousand. It was the most decided success yet achieved 



316 HTSTOEY OF THE 124TH NEW YORK VOLUNTEERS. 

during the campaign Hancock pushed upon the second 

line of rifle-pits, and, notwithstanding the desperate resistance, 
stormed and took it. But if the enemy had been surprised in the 
morning, he now made most desperate efforts to recover his lost 
ground. Thus the battle became general. The Ninth corps on 
the extreme left, and the Sixth corps on Hancock's right, were at 
once pushed forward to support Hancock's advance ; while on the 
opposite side Ewell was reinforced by divisions from the corps of 
Hill and Longstreet. While the battle was thus concentrated on 
our left, Warren became hotly engaged on our right ; but although 
he charged with great vigor and intrepidity, the enemy's position 
in his front was found to be impregnable. Thus for three hours 
the fighting continued ; but although we resisted the desperate 
attacks of the enemy upon Hancock and Burnside, it was evident, 
that we could make no further advance. The "round was, in our 
front, swept by a storm of projectiles of every kind. 
Charge and countercharge were made until nightfall, and the car- 
nage was terrific." 

Lossing, in his admirable his tor}', after telling of the assault 
and capture of the first line, in language similar to the above, and 
quoting Hancock's pencil note to Grant, says, " Hancock failed to 
'go into Early' in the«*vay he anticipated. The enthusiasm of 
his troops after their success, was unbounded, and seemed equal 
to any demand. Indeed, they could not be restrained. They 
pushed forward after flying Confederates through the woods to- 
ward Spottsylvania Court House, for a mile, when they were 
checked by a second and unfinished line of breastworks, behind 
which the fugitives rallied and turned upon their pursuers. The 
entire Confederate line had been aroused by the surprise to a 
sense of great peril, and the most desperate efforts were made 
to prevent further disaster, and to recover what had been lost. 
Ewell was immediately reinforced by troops from the corps of 
Hill and Longstreet, and Hancock's victors were thrown back to 
the line they had captured, and upon these heavy masses of the 
foe were thrown Lee was determined to re-take the 

works Johnston and Stewart had lost. Five times he hurled a 



ON THROUGH THE WILDERNESS. 3L7 

tremendous weight of men and weapons upon Hancock, in order 
to dislodge him. The combatants fought hand to hand most des- 
perately, and the flags of both were several times planted on each 
side of the breastworks, simultaneously, and within a few feet of 
each other Lee's assaults were repulsed with dreadful carnage 
on both sides, and yet he persisted, notwithstanding rain fell 
heavily all the afternoon. It was midnight before he ceased to 
fight, when he sullenly withdrew with his terribly shattered and 
worn columns, after a combat of twenty hours, leaving Hancock 
in possession of the works he had captured in the morning, and 
twenty guns. So ended the Battle of Spottsylvania Court House, 
one of the bloodiest of the war Probably there never 

was a battle where so many bullets flew in a given space of time 
and distance." 

Swinton, in his critical comments on the battle, hints at the 
culpable blunder of some one, which robbed us of fully one-half 
the legitimate fruits of our splendid victory; and then gives in 
most graphic language an account of what he saw on visiting the 
works on the morning after the battle : " But though," he writes, 
" the tactical dispositions to carry the works were admirable, little 
provision had been made looking to that critical moment that 
comes after an assault, when the victory must either be assured 
by a decisive blow or risk a lapse of all the gain Of 

all the struggles of the war this was perhaps the most deadly — 
the enemy's most savage sallies were directed to re-take the fam- 
ous salient which was now become an angle of death, and pre- 
sented a spectacle ghastly and terrible. On the Confederate side 
of the works lay many corpses of those who had been bayoneted 
by Hancock's men when they first leaped the intrenchments. To 
these were constantly added the bravest of those who, in the as- 
saults to re-capture the position, fell at the margin of the works, 
till the ground was literally covered with piles of dead, and the 
woods in front of the salient were one hideous Golgotha. I am 
aware that the language above used may resemble exaggeration ; 
but I speak of what I personally saw." 

Pollard, viewing the battle from a Confederate standpoint, • 



818 HISTORY OF THE 124TH NEW YORK VOLUNTEERS. 

sufficiently corroborates the accounts of Northern writers already- 
quoted, to satisfy the reader that they have not overdrawn the 
bloody picture, or ascribed to Hancock's troops an undue meed 
of praise. "In the morning of the 12th," he writes, "it was 
found that Hancock was again in the centre, vigorously assaulting 
Johnston's division. This division held a salient of the Confed- 
erate line ; and as the enemy, taking the forces within flank, 
rushed over the angle, they were quickly in possession of the 
work, capturing most of Johnston's men along with their com- 
mander, and taking twenty pieces of artillery Charge after 
charge was made by the Confederates to regain what ground 
they had lost. It was a conflict of sublime fury and terrible 
carnage. The dead and wounded lay piled over each other, the 
latter often underneath the former. What remained of Ewell's 
corps held the enemy in check with a courage that nothing could 
subdue. General Hill moved down from the right, joined Ewell, 
and threw his division into the struggle. Longstreet came on 
from the extreme left of the Confederate line ; it was a dead-lock 
of slaughter, in which neither side gained ground, and the inter- 
vening space was piled with slain. At I he close of the day the 
enemy held about three hundred yards of the Confederate 
works." 

Let us now return to the open field where Hancock's weary 
troops, having completed their preparations, are lying on the 
ground, snatching a few moments' sleep, while waiting for the 
order, forward. The corps has been disposed for the assault as 
follows : Birney's division in four battle lines, with Ward's bri- 
gade in front, the 124th composing the right centre of his first 
line ; Barlow's division formed to the left of Birney's in two lines 
of masses, Miles' and Brookes' brigades in the first line, and 
Brown's and Smythe's brigades in the second line, each regiment 
forming double column on the centre; Mott's division supporting 
Birney's, and Gibbon's division supporting Barlow's — thus : 



ON THROUGH THE WILDERNESS. &19 

Miles. Bkookes. 20th Ind. 86th N. Y. 124th N. Y. 99th Pa. 



141 Pa. 40 N. Y. 110 Pa. 2 U. S. S. S. 3 Me. 



BARLOW'S DIVISION. BIRNEY'S DIVISION. 

Bkown. Smythe. 



GIBBON. MOTT. 



The distance from our front to the enemy's line was about 
one thousand yards. The intervening space in front of Birney 
was uneven, and that half of it nearest the foe, thicklv wooded. 
In front of Barlow the cleared ground extended up to the ene- 
my's works. The rain had ceased falling, it was past four o'clock, 
and the day was breaking; but a dense fog concealed our pres- 
ence from the view of the unsuspecting enemy's videttes. 

At half-past four I stood, with my horse beside me, in rear 
of the centre of my regiment, every other member of which, so 
far as I could see, except two of the color-guard, were lying on 
the ground, apparently fast asleep. I had unstrapped a rubber 
coat from my saddle, and put it on, outside my overcoat, for it 



320 HISTORY OF THE 124TH NEW YORK VOLUNTEERS. 

was damp and very chilly. In order to keep myself awake I 
had bitten my tongue, so that blood flowed from it quite freely, 
I was wondering at the relief this afforded me when, suddenly a 
hand was laid on my shoulder, and wheeling about I found my- 
self confronted by General Ward. 

The General had his cloak wrapped about his massive form, 
was unattended, and seemed in a most gloomy mood. After re- 
ferring to the repulse of his brigade on the 10th, he addressed me 
in a most earnest manner, substantially if not word for word, as 
follows : " Colonel, you have been assigned a post of honor. I 
expect you to take your regiment over the works this time or 
die in the attempt. Give your orders in a whisper, preserve 
strict silence in your ranks when you advance, and do not fire a 
shot this side of the enemy's works. You will take direction 
from the 20th Indiana, the second regiment to your left." He 
then walked rapidly awa}', to give, I presume, similar instructions 
to the other leading regiments of his brigade. 

At half-past four, just as the first rays of day began to break 
through the fog, the order move forward was given. My men, 
though they had been unable to keep their eyes open, had re- 
tained a firm hold of their loaded weapons, and at the whis- 
pered, up, men, sprang to their feet wide awake. Even my jaded 
horse, as I mounted, pricked up his ears and shook his head as 
if to say, I too, am ready for the fray 

Since the opening of the campaign we had been facing death 
so much of the time, our sensibilities may have become somewhat 
blunted. It is certain that the great majority of the men of my 
command, while fully assured that in a very few moments they 
would be called to enter upon one of the most desperate under- 
takings they had ever known, made no determined efforts to keep 
awake, even after they had fixed bayonets, and formed for the 
charge ; but on the contrary lay down and yielded to the im- 
pulse to close their eyes, the moment the opportunity was given 
them. 

At the order forward, guide left, march ! which was given in 
a suppressed tone, every man of the 124th stepped briskly and 



ON THROUGH THE WILDERNESS. 321 

resolutely forward, save one. This was a recruit whose name I 
had not yet learned. He was a rather rugged appearing person, 
but did not look to be over seventeen or eighteen ye.-irs of a°'e. 
Riding up to him, I placed the point of my sword against his 
body, and ordered him to move forward instantly But he did 
not stir, and I repeated my order, accompanying it with a threat 
that, unless he obeyed forthwith, I would run him through, and 
emphasized the threat with a slight thrust which I believed caused 
the steel to enter his flesh half an inch, or perhaps, a little more. 
But yet he stood his ground, and bracing himself said, " I am too 
sick to take a single step — run your sword through me if you will, 
I had as leave die here as anywhere else." * I believed the lat- 
ter half of his statement, and leaving him standing there, hurried 
to the front and centre of my advancing line. 

I was exceedingly proud of the sons of Old Orange as they 
moved into action that morning. There was not only nothing to in- 
dicate weariness in their gait or mien, though I knew full well how 
terribly jaded they were, but somehow they appeared taller than 
was their wont. There was that too in the handling of their weap- 
ons and in the unordered but continual quickening of their pace, 

* In December, 1875, I was at a religious meeting held in the Trinity Methodist 
Church in Newburgh, at which the theme of professing Christians harboring and 
treasuring up ill feelings the one against the other, was dwelt upon at considerable 
length, and in a very forcible manner. At the close of the service a stranger approach- 
ed me, and extending his hand, addressed me as near I can remember in this wise: 
"You did me a great injury once, and the very sight of you, ever since, has aroused 
within me a most unchristian feeling. And in order to rid myself of this feeling I 
have come to you to say that as I hope to be forgiven, I freely forgive you." I looked 
at the man in amazement, for I could not recall ever having seen him before. This I 
told him, and added, " but if I have ever unwittingly done you an injury, I am heartily 
sorry for it." He then told me his name, and related tome the circumstances narrated 
above. He was the recruit referred to. My sword it appears had sunk into his flesh 
much deeper than I thought, inflicting a severe wound from which he did not wholly 
recover for months. He declared on his honor that he was at the time, physically un- 
able to take another step ; and he evidently yet regarded my conduct toward him, as 
most brutal. Nevertheless had I executed my threat and run him through on the 
spot, I would have done a simple duty, in the eyes of military law ; for once on the 
battle-field, sickness and cowardice are synonymous terms. I fully believe the man 
is honest in his statement, and only regret that the opportunity to ask his pardon for 
the injury done him, was not sooner given me. And yet, being fallible, and acting in 
the capacity of a commanding officer, I can not to-day see wherein I exceeded in the 
least my simple duty — such is war. 



322 HISTORY OF THE 124TH NEW YOEK VOLUNTEERS. 

until I was forced to spur my horse to a lively trot to keep ahead of 
them, which thrilled me with a feeling of confidence, in both them 
and myself, such as I had never experienced before. Their bat- 
tle line all the way across the field was most superb, elbow touched 
elbow from flank to flank — not a break or a waver in it. Then 
into the thick woods we plunged, or under the hanging branches, 
and through the briars and brush which tore both clothes and 
skin. Occasionally a man would trip and fall, but the next mo- 
ment he would be in his place again. The enemy's pickets must 
have been sleeping, for notwithstanding the noise made by the 
snapping of dry twigs as we passed over them, and the rattle of 
the brush as we were forcing our way through it, they evidently 
had not the slightest intimation of our approach until we were 
close upon them, when they hurriedly discharged their pieces, 
and fled to give warning to the troops of their main body 

Only one of these shots took effect on our line. That struck 
a man, near the colors, in the leg, causing him to drop out of the 
ranks. This instead of impeding our advance, served to quicken 
the speed of his comrades, who, a moment later, catching sight of 
the frowning works, sent up a wild, ringing shout and dashed 
madly forward, grasping by the foot and jerking back one of the 
fleeing pickets who was half-way over the works ; and crowding 
their leader's horse into the ditch in front, where his rider was 
obliged to leave him, and hasten to clamber over the earthen bar- 
rier, lest his regiment should lead him instead of his leading them. 
Several of our number, while straightening themselves up on the 
top of the works, were pierced by bullets fired by the rallying 
foe, but a moment later we bore down on their half- formed line 
with a force that could not be resisted. 

Then ensued one of those hand-to-hand encounters with club- 
bed rifles, bayonets, swords and pistols, which defies description. 
Some cried for quarter, while others would not yield until felled 
to the ground by sturdy blows, pierced by ba3 f onets, or disabled 
by bullets; while yet others throwing down their arms, skulked 
from tree to tree, or taking the chances of being hit by Minie 
balls they knew would be sent after them, bolted at the top of 



ON THROUGH THE WILDERNESS. 323 

their speed, in a bee line, toward the Confederate rear, mentally 
singing, perhaps, that old couplet, 

He who fiuhts ai d runs away 
May live to fight another day. 

Officers of the opposing forces cut and slashed with their swords, 
and fired with their revolvers into the very faces of each other. 
In the midst of the melee one of my men who had just smitten 
down an opponent by a blow delivered with such force as to bre:ik 
off the stock of his rifle, was seen to rush forward the next instant 
to the relief of an appealing Confederate w 7 ho had been literally 
pinned through the body to a tree, by a ramrod fired by some 
excited Unionist. 

A Confederate colonel of the famous Stonewall Brigade, hav- 
ing emptied the last barrel of his revolver, gracefully surrendered 
by reversing his empty piece, and handing it to me, remarking as 
he did so, " I ask as a favor to be sent off the field under guard, 
for I do not care to be considered one of that flock of sheep," — ■ 
pointing at, and referring to the last remnant of his command, 
which having just been captured and disarmed by the 124th, was 
being hurried over the works toward the Union rear ; there to be 
picked up by the supporting lines. 

All that portion of Johnston's division in our immediate front, 
including a light battery — some of the gunners of which we bayo- 
neted at their pieces, having been disposed of, the men, without 
waiting to re-form, or for the orders of their officers, rushed on 
through the forest shouting like mad men, shooting at every flee- 
ing Confederate they saw, picking up prisoners by the score, and 
sweeping away every living thing from in front of them, for full 
one-third of a mile. 

Ward's second line came up while we were yet engaged in 
the contest over the enemy's guns, and had entered into the pur- 
suit with such spirit as to lose their organization at the very out- 
set, the best runners bounding to the front, while the less active 
gradually fell to the rear. At the distance from the main line 
indicated above, the air began to be filled with whistling bullets, 



32i HISTORY OF THE 124TH NEW YORK VOLUNTEERS. 

coming from the woods in the front. The Unionists increased 
their fire arid our men began to fall, here one and there one. 
Presently we came to a light line of rifle-pits behind which the 
advance halted. About a hundred and fifty yards farther on was 
an unfinished or partially built line of unoccupied breastworks, 
while from the woods beyond there came a sharp crackling of 
riflery which told of a line of battle firing us it advanced. Our 
further success depended on our reaching these works first, and 
in sufficient force to hold them. 

But a part of the 124th was now with me, and the only color 
close at hand was the State flag of the 141st Pennsylvania. This 
was in charge of a lieutenant, who had with him eight or ten men 
of that command. The roar of riflery from the enemy's advanc- 
ing line, grew louder and yet louder. The hissing, whizzing bul- 
lets came thicker and faster. Our situation was now most 
critical, no one seemed inclined to advance beyond the pits, and 
some of the men turned about and started toward the rear. The 
standard of the 141st was, at my request, advanced, but ere its 
bearer passed over the rifle-pits he fell seriously, if not mortally, 
wounded ; whereupon the lieutenant rushed forward and grasped 
the falling color, but a moment later he too was disabled, and our 
rallying line began to give ground again. At this I shouted 
" cowards," hearing which a corporal to whom the wounded lieu- 
tenant had passed the flag, stepped up and handed it to me, de- 
claring that he and his surviving comrades would follow the old 
flag into the very mouth of the infernal regions, if I would carry 
it there. 

A moment later some fifty of us started with a wild, charging 
shout across the intervening space, but we w^re too late. As I 
planted the Pennsylvanian's- standard on the works, the advancing 
Confederate line hove in sight, a terrible volley swept over and 
into us, and I fell among the wounded ; and was hurriedly borne 
toward the Union rear. 

On to and over the works rushed the solid and fresh line of 
the foe, sweeping back — as we a few moments before had done — 
everything in front of them. It was the piercing Southern squeal, 



A T SPO T T S V L V A N I A C. H. 325 

instead of Northern shout, that now rent the air, and resounded 
above the roar of battle, over the fields and through the woods 
of Spottsylvania ; carrying joy to the wounded Confederate, but 
bringing bitter disappointment to the expiring Unionist who had 
hoped to die shouting victory on a field his valor had helped to win. 

On rushed the foe, driving our disorganized battalions back 
through the camps, to the outer or main line of captured works ; 
into which troops from front and rear were speedily crowded until 
our men stood shoulder to shoulder from five to ten ranks deep. 

Then ensued that unparalleled struggle of eighteen hours' 
duration, over a strip of loose upturned earth some four feet high 
and less than four hundred yards long, in which, hours before the 
contest ended, there fell a number of men sufficient for the build- 
ing of a barricade of human flesh, along the entire line of captured 
works, three feet through and so high that there was not a man 
in either army tall enough to stand at its base and look over at 
his enemies on the opposite side. 

The main body of the 124 th, now under command of Major 
Murray, had, on falling back, taken with them two of the cap- 
tured brass guns, and a quantity of fixed ammunition. They 
were given position in that portion of the works now known to 
history as the Angle of Death. Speedily manning these guns they 
turned them upon the advancing foe, and under the direction of 
Captains Wood and Travis — both of whom had served in Ellis' 
howitzer company through the Bull Run campaign — used them 
most effectually until their last round of ammunition was ex- 
pended. 

The principal features of this protracted and most deadly 
contest have already been given in the quoted passages from 
noted authors, found in the preceding pages of this chapter. 
And as I was not privileged to remain at the front and per- 
sonally witness the many noble acts performed by the members 
of my gallant regiment, throughout that bloody day and the event- 
ful night which followed, I will now ask my readers to accompany 
me across the battle-field to the general hospitals several miles 
to the rear. 



326 HISTORY OF THE 124TH NEW YORK VOLUNTEERS. 

The minnie ball by which I was wounded seemed to fall from 
the clouds, but came, I have no doubt, from the rifle of a Confed- 
erate sharpshooter posted in one of the tall trees which stood just 
inside the works we essayed to occupy He wasn't a " crack 
shot " either, for his bullet, evidently aimed at my head, missed 
the mark by several inches. It however struck and passed down- 
ward in an oblique direction through the calf of my leg, taking 
off a slight splinter from the bone, and severing the muscles to 
such an extent as to render the limb totally useless for the pur- 
poses of immediate locomotion. 

Fortunately, just as I fell, eight Confederates, who had es- 
caped from the first line of works and taken shelter behind this 
inner line, finding themselves caught between two fires, threw 
down their rifles, and sprang over the works and surrendered. 
Hastily tearing the flag of the 141st from its staff I thrust it in- 
side my vest, and drawing and cocking my revolver pressed these 
prisoners into service as stretcher bearers. Without a moment's 
delay they picked me up very tenderly, using my long rubber 
overcoat as a stretcher, and set off toward the Union rear. And 
they made most excellent time. To be sure I held my naked 
sword in one hand, empty Confederate revolver in the other, and 
strove hard to look very ferocious. But somehow I soon became 
thoroughly convinced that these southern gentlemen were as 
anxious as myself to get out of range of the bullets which whistled 
about our ears in a most careless manner, and of the shells which 
occasionally went crashing through the trees above and about us. 

For a considerable distance the earthworks at which I fell 
afforded us some protection against the bullets of the advancing 
Confederate lines, but whenever we came to the least elevation 
in the ground we were passing over my bearers bent very low 
under their monstrous weight of about one hundred and fifty 
pounds, — so Yery low in fact as on several occasions to allow their 
precious burden to drag and thump against the ground — but no- 
body grumbled. 

At the start two slightly wounded men, who were yet able to 
carry their guns, accompanied us as a sort of self-constituted 



AT SPOTTSYLVANIA C. H. 327 

guard, but presently one of these, unable to keep pace with the 
" Stonewall rangers," gradually dropped to the rear and was lost 
sight of; but the other remained until I had no further need of 
his services. 

My bearers were not very talkative. Six of them carried at 
a time and the remaining two trudged along by my side in charge 
of the wounded guard. We had in fact proceeded full half a 
mile before a word was spoken by any one of them. Then the 
most frail looking man of the squad, who was one of the second 
pair of bearers, and consequently had the hardest place, suddenly 
wheezed out in a very hoarse tone of voice " Thunder and light- 

nin — you uns knowd T was ni gone with a cold and " here 

his voice gave out entirely ; but the change he wished was soon 
made and we pushed on again. 

We were now out of sight of the advancing foe, and soon began 
to wonder why it was we could see nothing that looked like a 
Union line of battle, or even a Union flag. Bullets, coming from 
we knew not whom, continued to fly about, and ever and anon 
we would hear a thud and see some poor wounded man, who like 
ourselves was doing his best to get out of range, whirl about like 
a top, or throw up his arms and sink down to rise no more. 

But we pressed on, and on, until at length there was not a 
man save my own party in sight, and I became satisfied that we 
had lost direction ; otherwise we would long ere that have been 
in the open country We had, in fact, moved entirely out of our 
proper line of retreat, and were now — this wounded soldier and 
myself — lost and alone in the woods with these eight able bodied 
men whom we had good reason to suppose were our deadly 
enemies. 

I was very thankful to have even this wounded man with me. 
On looking up I saw that his features wore a troubled expression. 
My bearers, now for the first time, seemed inclined to rest, and I 
immediately ordered them to halt and lay down their burden for 
that purpose ; earnestly hoping a squad of Unionists might mean- 
time happen that way 

We had not rested more than a minute when three or four 



328 HISTORY OF THE 124TH NEW YORK VOLUNTEERS. 

shells, which seemed to be red hot, passed over us, causing some 
rather ludicrous " duelling " among those who were standing. 
Ludicrous, after it was all over, I mean, for at the time I felt 
exceedingly sober minded. One of these shells passed so near my 
own head as to almost take my breath away, and I felt come over 
me very suddenly, an irresistible desire to change from a sitting 
to a lying posture. Following close after the thunder of the dis- 
charge came a cloud of stifling powder smoke, writhing and twist- 
ing toward us as if it were some huge unearthly monster, intent 
on our destruction. As this enveloped and almost stifled us, I 
heard, not fifty yards distant, orders to reload, given in accents I 
had no desire to remain and listen to. We had run right up 
against a masked Confederate battery, and I expected as a mat- 
ter of course the tables would now be turned — that the prisoners 
would become the captors and we (the guard and myself) be 
carried inside their lines. But to my surprise and delight I was 
the next moment borne hurriedly away in an opposite direction. 

After moving out of range we followed the course of the shells 
fired by this battery, which went crashing through the trees 
to our right at a tremendous rate. About a quarter of a mile 
from the spot which had proven such an unsatisfactory resting 
place, we emerged into the open fields on which Hancock had 
formed his command for the attack. There I was joined by Pri- 
vate John H. Conklin of Co. A ; and soon came upon Private 
Price, of Co. K, who had caught and was leading my horse. 

On a sightly spot near the centre of this clearing, which I 
judged was from four to five hundred acres in extent, stood the 
Brown house, which early in the morning had been occupied as 
corps headquarters. There I found a detachment of the provost- 
guard, to whom I " turned in " the prisoners. There, too, was our 
corps medical director, who, after assisting me to a chair in the 
centre of a large room, the floor of which was almost covered with 
wounded officers, soon removed my heavy riding boot by two or 
three dexterous cuts with a wonderfully sharp knife ; and then 
slitting the leg of my pants, thrust a finger in either end of the 
wound, discovered and removed the loose splinters of bone, and 



AT SPOTTSYLVANIA C. H. 329 

directing an assistant to apply a bandage, turned away with the 
remark, " good for a sixty-day furlough," and gave his attention 
to a wounded staff officer who had just been brought in. 

As soon as the bandage was applied I hobbled out of doors, 
and sat clown on the piazza, which ran across the front of the 
house. This, too, was almost covered with wounded men. On my 
right lay a major of the line, delirious, and in the agonies of 
death. His body quivered, and his limbs twitched in a frightful 
manner, while in an excited but gradually failing voice he con- 
tinually shouted orders and words of encouragement to his men, 
or hurled threats of defiance at the foe ; as if his command had 
just scaled the works, and he was yet in the midst of that first 
bloody encounter where I doubt not he received his mortal hurt. 

Above the woods in which the combatants were concealed, 
the smoke of battle hung like a pall ; and even there where I sat, 
which was full a mile away from the contending lines, the air had 
a sulphurous taste. The roar of battle was incessant, and from 
left and front and right, wounded men poured in and formed an 
unbroken column which passed along a beaten track, in front of 
this house to a road that ran toward the general hospitals. 

As I sat listlessly gazing on this weird scene, a corporal 
stepped up to me, and saluting, said, " I am one of the color 
guard of the 141st. Will you please let me have our flag? Un- 
hesitatingly I drew it forth and handed it to him, and he went 
his way rejoicing. I afterward learned that his regiment was pub- 
licly reprimanded for losing it. If the little band who followed 
this flag to the farthest point of our advance were included in the 
order, a gross injustice was certainly done them. 

Private Price, who was unable to handle a musket because of 
a wound received in a former battle, remained with me ; and after 
I had rested a short time on the piazza, he helped me to mount, 
and we fell in with the motley column of wounded, and started 
for the field hospitals, which were yet a mile and a half distant 

As we passed from the clearing, through a gateway, to the 
main road which led into the woods again, I heard, in a familiar 
voice, a hearty " Well, Weygant, I was expecting you,'' and look- 



330 HISTORY OF THE 124TH NEW YORK VOLUNTEERS. 

ing up encountered the smiling face of Chaplain Joe Twichell, of 
the Excelsior Brigade. Chaplain T was one of that not very 
numerous class of glorious good fellows who are always found 
watching for an opportunity to " do a good turn," spiritual or 
otherwise, to those in need. He was looking anxiously for the 
wounded men of his regiment, but had a word of praise and en- 
couragement for all. His horse stood beside him, and his saddle- 
bags looked very much as if they contained something in bottles. 
If so it was for the exclusive use of such of the poor wounded 
boys of his regiment as he judged would be benefited by it. I 
had met him similarly engaged at Chancallorsville and Gettys- 
burg, and his kind greeting was most welcome. That afternoon 
he and Chaplain Acker of the 86th, called on me at the hos- 
pital, and offered to do anything in their power for the comfort of 
myself and comrades. And just here let me record the fact that 
during the bloody campaign of the Wilderness, the sick and 
wounded men of the 124th at the front had no more true or will- 
ing friend than this same Chaplain Acker. He appeared to know 
no difference between a member of the 86th and 124th — or if he 
did have a slight preference, it was in favor of the men from 
Orange County 

On arriving at the hospital I found that a vanguard of wounded 
Orange Blossoms had preceded me, and following close after came 
a score or more of others. Lieutenant Houston, of Co. D., came 
staggering in with bloated face, the blood running from his 
mouth and trickling from a hole in either cheek. He was one 
of the most brave, and had always been regarded as the most 
unassuming and quiet officer in the regiment. But now he could 
not talk if he would, for a bullet had passed through his face 
and his jaw was terribly shattered. 

Then came Captain Benedict of the same company, borne on 
a stretcher — his swarthy complexion, which never faded in battle, 
now almost fair from loss of blood. He had been shot through 
the hips — the bullet entering one side and coming out at the other. 
There he lay as helpless as an infant ; and it was the general 
opinion of those who saw him that he could not survive his inju- 



AT SPOTTSYLVANIA G. II. 331 

ries. One of his brother officers, however, naively remarked 
" Oh no, old Whortleberry is too contrary to let a bullet kill him, 
he will come around, you will see ; " and he was right. James 
Benedict's place as captain of his company " Z>," of which he 
was justly proud, was not to be declared vacant while the war 
lasted, and its first and only captain was yet to render his 
country much valuable service in the field. 

About noon my pack-horse, laden with regimental headquar- 
ters traps, was brought up, and as the hospital tents were 
already crowded to overflowing, I had our field tent pitched, and 
started a small ward of my own. 

The first person who came up sifter I had moved into it was 
Captain Wood, of Co. A. I had just stretched myself on my 
bed of boughs, and was trying to get my wounded limb in a com- 
fortable position when I heard a slight scratch on the canvas at 
the opening of the tent, and looking up saw the captain's face, be- 
grimed with powder yet wearing its usual smile. There was, 
however, something about its expression which told me he was 
suffering intensely, and as he sidled in I saw that he was nursing 
one of his arms as tenderly as if it were some relative s baby — 
for he was as yet a bachelor. A bullet had struck him in the 
forearm, just below the elbow, and had become wedged in between 
the bones in such a way that the surgeons, he said, had almost 
murdered him in fruitless efforts to remove it. When I asked 
him to lie down beside me he sank on the pine boughs as if there 
was no more strength left in him. My old company, the captain 
informed me, was badly cut up. Both the Gallow brothers had 
been wounded ; Frank severely in the leg, while Charley had 
been shot through both arms, and was sitting on the ground by 
the surgeon's table, waiting his turn to have one of them ampu- 
tated. Private Brownley had been killed early in the action and 
Corporal Arcularius too, he thought,, for he had not been seen 
after they fell back to the earthworks. 

About two p. m. I learned that Lieutenant Cormick, the com- 
manding officer of F, which was now our color company, was 
walking about through the hospital inquiring after our wounded, 



332 HISTORY OF THE 124TH NEW YORK VOLUNTEERS. 

and I sent for him to come to my tent. In a few moments he 
appeared, and in answer to my inquiries as to whether the 
regiment had been relieved from the battle line, replied, " Oh 
no ! I left the boys fighting, and come very near being shot 
getting to the rear. The fact is I ought to have gone back, and 
did start to do so, but the Major had ordered me away and I — 
I — had to obey him." Just then I noticed blood trickling from 
the brave fellow's sleeve, and on further inquiry learned that he 
had been wounded in the arm by a bullet. At this juncture one 
of our men, who had just arrived slightly wounded, came up, and 
seeing Lieutenant Cormick standing there — for the ends of 
my tent had been thrown open — expressed surprise^ and said he 
would have sworn that he had gone to kingdom come. It appears 
that when the Lieutenant was wounded in the arm, he sat down 
on the ground, took oft' his coat, tore out one of the sleeves of his 
shirt and bandaged it ; then, picking up a rifle, procured some 
ammunition from the box of a dead man, and taking position 
behind and almost directly under the colors, declared he would 
play the sharpshooter once more until he had made the score even 
with the Rebs. After firing several very deliberately aimed shots, 
he expressed himself as satisfied and returned to his post in rear 
of his little company The next moment a shell exploded so near 
as to knock him completely off his feet. For several minutes he 
was unconscious, and it was supposed he was dead. (It was at 
this juncture that the man referred to lost a finger and started from 
the field.) But in a few moments the Lieutenant regained con- 
sciousness, and the Major gave orders that he be carried to the 
rear, and directed him in most emphatic terms to remain there. 
One of his sides was badly bruised from his hip to his shoulder, 
and two of his ribs were broken. But after being carried two or 
three hundred feet he got off the stretcher, sent his bearers to 
the front again, and made his way to the hospital unaided. At 
my request, or rather in compliance with my order, he lay down 
beside Captain Wood. 

Presently a wounded man of Company E. came in and re- 
lated with great gusto the particulars of the capture of the battle 



AT SPOTTSYLVANIA C. H. 333 

flag of the 17th Louisiana by young Archibald Freeman, of Ms 
company. " The Rebs," said he, -''had charged almost up to the 
works twice before, but this time they came clear up and planted 
their stars and bars on the other side of the works right opposite 
the Union flags. The Louisianians were facing our regiment and 
had thrust their standard in the earth directly opposite and not 
more than three feet from ours. But it did not float there more 
than a minute when Arch. Freeman, of my company, sprang on 
the works and as quick as a flash jerked up the traitor rag and 
was back in his place without getting a scratch — and, well now, 
you just ought to have heard our boys yell. The Rebs tried to 
get even by coming the same dodge on us and capturing our flag; 
hut they ought to have known better than to attempt such a job, 
for we tumbled them back, completely riddled with bullets every 
time they came near it." 

During the afternoon Lieutenant Mapes, of Co. B., appeared, 
slightly wounded in the head, and I then had with me at the 
hospital five of my ten company commanders. Just how many 
of the rank and file had arrived I was unable to learn; but it 
was very evident that the regiment at the front was growing 
decidedly weak in numbers. 

During the forenoon it was exceedingly warm, but about one 
o'clock a light rain storm set in, cooling the air and refreshing 
the wounded — especially the poor fellows who yet lay scattered 
over the field. As evening approached the storm increased some- 
what, and a strong but fitful breeze sprang up coming from the 
direction of the battle-field. It fanned the fever heated brows, 
but at the same time produced a most undesirable effect, by its 
wild freaks with the battle thunder, on the thousands of 
wounded gathered at the hospital. Large numbers of these suf- 
ferers, exhausted by several consecutive days and nights of forced 
wakefulness, had, in spite of their wounds, fallen asleep. At first 
the dull, heavy monotonous roar sank lower and yet lower, until 
it seemed there was at last a lull in the storm of death which since 
early morning had raged with unabated fury. So real appeared 
this lull in the dread storm of battle, that a dying man wliis- 



334 HISTORY OF THE 124TH NEW YORK VOLUNTEERS. 

pered, " Thank God, the fighting for to-day at least, is ended." 
But the next moment it began to gather force again and swelled 
out louder and }'et louder, coming rapidly nearer, until it seemed 
as if Milton's legions of darkness had espoused the cause of the 
Confederates and, armed with improved engines of war from the 
arsenals of the infernal regions, were hurling the entire Union 
army right back on the tents we were occupying ; and hun- 
dreds of the wounded, startled from their sleep, sprang to their 
feet, and grasping whatever they could find, rushed out from 
under the canvas, ready to fight or flee. Those of us who 
had remained awake knew very well that it was but the action of 
the wind, and yet I found myself reaching for my sword, and 
with difficulty refrained from playing the fool by shouting for my 
horse. Then as the fierce blast, having spent its greatest force, 
sank apace, the roarings of mingled cannon peals, and rifle crash, 
and wild shouts of fierce combatants, seemed to recede again. 

Comparative quiet was soon restored, but for several hours 
these mad phantom armies of the wind, borrowing the actual thun- 
der of battle, went rushing back and forth, driving many a poor 
fellow nearly distracted. At length — about midnight — the fight- 
ing ceased and the wind, deprived of its ally, went whistling 
through the woods like a frightened boy, and we presently heard 
only the occasional crack of a rifle on the distant picket line, the 
shouts of the delirious, and the groans of the dying. 

The wonderful eighteen hours' struggle had ended by the 
Confederates abandoning the impossible task of retaking the 
works Hancock's men had captured, and retiring from amid the 
literally piled up corpses of their slain to their inner lines. 

But how fared it now with our Orange Blossoms yet at the 
front, very few of whom had, for seventy odd hours, eaten any- 
thing save a ration of hard bread, or slept to exceed a couple 
of hours ? When, at midnight, the battle ended, Lieutenant 
Theodore M. Roberson, with twenty men of the 124th, was 
ordered out on picket, and the entire number remained on their 
posts, close up to and watching the enemy's line until daylight. 
Those who were left in the works partook of a midnight meal, to 



AT SPOTTSYLVANIA C. H. 335 

appease the gnawings of hunger, after which two-thirds of them at 
a time were allowed to lie down beside their loaded weapons and 
rest. 

During the night of the 12th, preparations were made for 
sending as many as possible of the wounded to the city of 
Fredericksburg ; and at early daylight, on the morning of the 
13th, a vast train of ambulances and army wagons came clatter- 
ing up and went winding in and out among the white tents of our 
bullet-smitten city These, as fast as they could be packed with 
the seriously wounded, moved off followed by a vast throng of 
the less severely injured who were able to walk. 

At eight o'clock I had my horse saddled and brought to my 
tent, and gathering such articles as it was supposed we would 
need on our journey, I was assisted to mount — for so great was 
my dread of a long ride in an ambulance filled with wounded, I 
had resolved to attempt the journey on horseback. But the mo- 
ment 1 lowered my wounded limb, so as to allow the foot to hang 
down, a peculiar sensation was produced. The foot seemed to be 
wonderfully heavy, or rather felt as if it was being pulled from 
the leg. But this difficulty was soon remedied by Private Price, 
who speedily manufactured a piece of shelter tent into a sling, 
which, being placed over my shoulder, and about my foot and 
ankle, formed a rest. Of this sling I could take a firm hold, and 
relieve my limb from the worst effects of the jar occasioned by 
the tramp of my horse. 

When all was at length satisfactorily arranged, I bid adieu 
to such of my comrades as had not yet been packed in the train, 
and fell in with the departing column. Then hour after hour, 
we trudged on beneath the gradually increasing heat of the sun, 
along a hard rough road, which, notwithstanding the recent rain, 
soon sent up clouds of dust. Ab far as the eye could reach, 
looking forward or backward, this dusty highway was crowded 
with heavily laden canvas-covered wagons, and with pale, blood- 
stained, staggering men. Several times we passed by a small 
burial party digging a grave for the dead body of some one who 
had just breathed his last, in one of the ambulances, or more 



SCO HISTORY OF THE 124TH NEW YORK VOLUNTEERS. 

likely in one of the springless wagons, which every few moments 
went clattering and bouncing along over bumps and in and out of 
gullies, jostling together the poor helpless beings, with which they 
were filled, and whose cries of agony as they passed were fre- 
quently appalling. 

At every spring, well, and stream of water we came to, vast 
crowds were gathered bathing their wounds, and filling their can- 
teens. These crowds were frequently so great that it was with 
no little difficulty, and only after considerable delay, that my 
attendant was able to procure for me fresh supplies of the fever- 
appeasing balm. 

At length when so completely exhausted that I felt I must 
speedily dismount in order to save a fall from my horse, the spires 
of Fredericksburg suddenly loomed up near at hand, and an hour 
later I was lying, forgetful of all actual scenes, on a comfortable 
cot in one of the spacious dwellings of that city 

Early the next morning, I was surprised by a call from 
Bugler Ross, who informed me that his special charge, Colonel 
Cummins, was in the room directly above me. After break- 
fast I made my way up to the room where the Colonel was 
lying. He was quite weak, but in the best of spirits, and look- 
ing much stronger than I had expected to find him. The doctors 
however informed me that it would be some days yet, even under 
the most favorable circumstances, before he would be able to re- 
sume his journey northward. 

In the course of our conversation, I told him of my ride from 
the front on horseback, and how that after a day's rest, I intended 
to resume my journey in the same manner. " You will never 
get over making an ass of }'ourself," said he, and added " you are 
a pretty looking subject to talk about such a thing — but I say, 
Weygant, have you any money ? I have some and will divide with 
you." Fortunately I had with me all the money I had need of 
just then, but had the division he suggested been desirable, lam 
sure he would have insisted on my taking the larger part. 

Colonel Cummins, though not without grave faults as a com- 
mander, had an unusually kind heart, and so far as money was 



AT SPOTTS YLVANIA.C. H. 337 

concerned, was a most liberal man. He could not look on a pale 
face, or a blood-stained garment without losing sight of self, and 
instinctively feeling for his pocketbook. 

On the morning of the loth we, according to programme, 
though my limb was much swollen, resumed our journey We 
started at seven a. m.. and reached A quia Creek at four p. m., 
just as a steamboat was leaving the wharf. I have always be- 
lieved that the captain mistook my silver leaves for stars, for on 
seeing me approach he instantly caused the engine of his craft to 
be reversed and backed up and took me on board. We reached 
Georgetown during the night, and at early daylight the next 
morning I procured an ambulance, and was taken to Prince St. 
Hospital, where I remained three days, during which a kind- 
hearted elderly lady — the matron — waited on me with all the 
tenderness of a mother. She had a cot placed in her sitting room, 
which she unhesitatingly gave up to me with the simple remark, 
" The other rooms are all full now and besides you will be much 
more comfortable here." Every morning I would find a bouquet 
of fresh flowers on a little stand at the head of my cot ; books and 
papers were placed in reach, and every want was supplied, almost 
before it was made known. On the morning of the 19th, a fur- 
lough for which I had been anxiously waiting arrived, and I im- 
mediately began my preparations for a journey by rail to Old 
Orange. 

We will now take up again the broken thread of our story 
proper and, uniting it, continue as best we may at so great a dis- 
tance the record of the principal doings of the regiment — or rather 
of that small portion of it remaining at the front. The number of 
enlisted men present for duty on the morning of the 13th did 
not exceed one hundred and twenty, and during the day two of 
that number were shot while engaged altering with shovels, the 
captured works. 

On the 14th, Birney's entire division was withdrawn to higher 
ground some thirty-five rods to the rear, and there set to throw- 
ing up a new line of works. This movement was observed by the 
enemy, who sent forward a small observing force to occupy the 



338 HISTORY OF THE 124TH NEW YORK VOLUNTEERS. 

abandoned works, whereupon the 86th and 124th were directed 
to advance and drive them out. Hastily forming in front of their 
new line, they dashed forward under Colonel Lansing, of the 
86th, and speedily drove out the troublesome foe and recaptured 
the works. In this affair one man of the 124th was killed and 
three others wounded. 

On the 15th the brigade, now under command of Colonel 
Eagan, of the 40th N. Y., (General Ward having been, for some 
cause unknown to those under him, relieved from command,) 
marched several miles to the right, and then back to the left 
again, where they went into position on a new line, with their 
right flank resting on the river Po. In this movement they were 
several times under fire, and had a brisk skirmish with a small 
body of Confederates, taking twenty-one prisoners. Several men 
of the brigade were seriously injured, but the 124th escaped 
unscathed. On this new position they threw up a line of works 
behind which they remained without further loss, or being again 
disturbed until the evening of the 17th, when the enemy made a 
sudden dash against them, but was easily repulsed and severely 
punished with but slight loss to the brigade — the 124th having 
one man wounded. 

The losses of the Union army up to this date was, in round 
numbers, 35,000 men. That of the enemy, who had been gener- 
ally on the defensive, and behind breastworks, may have been 
somewhat less. We refer, of course, to the losses in killed, 
wounded, and captured. There is always in severe campaigns 
like this, in addition to the losses in battle, a continual drain 
from sickness, equal to full one per cent a day. But this drain 
on the Union army was counterbalanced by the arrival of rein- 
forcements. 

Since the opening of the campaign, the 124 th had either been 
actively engaged, or under fire so much of the time, that the men 
in writing home as late as the 18th, spoke of the battle which 
had been raging since the 4th of May The following is a com- 
plete list of the losses in battle of the 124th at Spottsylvania. 



AT SP0TTSYLVAN1A C. H. 



339 



CASUALTIES OP THE 124TH N. Y. AT SPOTTSYLVANIA 

COURT HOUSE. 

Lieutenant-Colonel C. H. Weygant, wounded. 



Wounded 
Killed 



Wounded 



COMPANY A. 
C'apt. Charles B. Wood. Wounded 

Sekgt. S. T. Rollings 

Corp. Robert C. Hunt " 

Corp. Henry Arcularius .Killed 

Joseph Brownly . . ...... . " 

Charles W Gallow Wounded 

Frank B Gallow 

JolmH. Warford 

William Carpenter " 

William Saunders " 

Richard Rollings " 

Jabez Odell 

Robert Ashman .. " 

COMPANY B. 
Lieut. William E. Mapes. 
First Sergt. C. A. Wheeler. 

George Boon 

Samuel Sherman 

Samuel Babcock 

Matthew Crawley 

Patrick Leach 

Andrew J. Messenger " 

James Birdsall " 

H. McShane 

Martin Everett 

COMPANY C. 

Corp. William R. Owen Killed 

John H. Finch... Wounded 

Chas. P F. Fisher. 
William H. H. Rhodes 

COMPANY D. 
Capt. James W Benedict. Wounded 
Lieut. John W Houston 

Sergt. William E. Hyatt Killed 

David D. Barrett 

John C. Degraw .. .. Wounded 

William H. Gordon 

Simeon Garrison " 

Carl G. Hoof man " 

Joseph Quackenbush " 

Oscar S. Weymer " 

W. H. Morgan 



COMPANY E. 

Corp. Adam H. Miller 

Corp. William H. Howell. 

John J. Scott 

Lewis W. Baxter. 

Henry M. Howell 

Simeon Wheat 

Horace H, Wheeler 

Archibald Freeman 



.Killed 



Wounded 



COMPANY F. 

Lieut. Edward J. Carmick. 
Sergt. Horace Hammond. . . 

John S. Schofield 

Erastus Peck 

Sanford L. Gordon 

COMPANY. G. 



Lewis T. Shultz. 
Nathan W Parker. 
Francis McMahon. 



COMPANY H. 
Sergt. Chas. W Tindall. . 
Sergt. George Butters 



Corp. William H. Brown. . . 

COMPANY I. 

First Sergt. A. P. Millspaugh. 
Jeduthan Millspaugh. 
William Edgar 

COMPANY K. 

Sergt. Wood T. Ogden 

Corp. John C. Vermilyea. . . 
Isaac Kanoff. . . . . ... 

John Studor. 

William H. Falkner 

Brig. Color-Bearer — 

Norman A. Sly, of D 

Sergt.-Major T. G. Mabie. . 

Total Casualties. . 



Wounded 
< t 

. Killed 
. Wounded 

i i 

. Captured 
Wounded 

Wounded 
.Killed 

Wounded 

... .Killed 
Wounded 

69 



CHAPTER XVII. 

FROM SPOTTSYLVANIA TO PETERSBURG. 

"POR several days after the battle of May 12th, the Union 
-*- army seems to have been kept busy, manoeuvering and 
marching up and down, in quest of some weak point in the 
enemy's defences at Spottsylvania ; but none was found, and on 
the morning of the 18th, General Grant determined on another 
direct assault. Hancock's command, strengthened by Tyler's 
fresh and powerful division of foot artillerists — which had just 
arrived from the fortifications about Washington — was designated 
to take the lead in this desperate undertaking. At the appointed 
time the advance, composed of the divisions of Gibbon and 
Barlow, swept forward in gallant style through the woods in front 
of the works captured on the 12th. But they soon brought up 
against a formidable abatis, and were speedily repulsed with such 
terrible loss, that it was deemed expedient to withdraw the entire 
force, instead of sending forward the supporting lines. The 
124th, as it stood in the second line waiting for and expecting 
orders to advance, had one man severely wounded by a stray 
bullet that passed over Barlow's men. 

As soon as it was known that Hancock's assault had proved a 
failure, preparations were made for another grand turning move- 
ment. An order was issued directing Mead's trains to be parked 
on the Fredericksburg road ; and Tyler's Division was sent 
thither to guard them. Birney's command now moved back a 
considerable distance from the main line, and encamped near the 
house of one Langdon. 

At daybreak on the 19th, Eagan's brigade moved about a 
mile to the rear, and encamped near the Anderson house. 
There the men of the 124th who, for two weeks, had scarcely 



FROM SPOTTSYLVANIA TO PETERSBURG. 341 

been out of range of the enemy's bullets, rested until about 
five p. M., when they were aroused by the sound of heavy firing, 
off to their rear — in the direction of the Fredericksburg road, on 
which it was known the trains were parked. 

Half an hour later a mounted orderly, dashing through their 
camp, reined up in front of brigade headquarters, and the next 
moment the assembly was sounded. Hurriedly grasping their 
guns, canteens, and haversacks, and leaving tents standing and 
knapsacks strewn about, they hurried into line, which was scarcely 
formed ere the brigade bugler tooted the forward, and the column 
started on a double-quick tow T ard the scene of action. On the way 
they were joined by a brigade from the 5th Corps, and the two 
columns marching side and side quickened their pace to a run, 
dashed through the wagon park and soon reached Tyler's battle 
line, which, though terribly cut up, was not only holding its own 
but had just repulsed a most determined assault of the foe, whose 
broken and straggling forces could be seen scampering out of range. 
Without a moment's delay the veterans hurried into line, and 
moving over Tyler's exhausted command, rushed forward with 
wild shouts after the flying foe, whom they pursued several 
miles. And when at length darkness put an end to the wild 
chase, the pursuers about faced and retraced their steps, bringing 
in with them upwards of five hundred prisoners. The 124th's 
share of this human plunder consisted of two officers and thirty- 
one enlisted men, while the wounding of Private Vradenburgh, 
of Co. Gr., was their only casualty. 

Swinton's account of this affair reads as follows : " Ewell, 
swept across the Ny, seized that important road, and attempted 
to capture a wagon train upon it, when he was stoutly resisted 
by Tyler and his artillerists. These had never been under fire 
before, but they fought with the coolness and steadiness of veter- 
ans of the Second and Fifth corps, who came to their assistance, 
but not until after Ewell had been repulsed. They did not fight 
with the caution of the veterans, and lost heavily. They and 
their gallant leader have the honor of repulsing Ewell ; and they 
share with others in the credit of scattering the foe, in the woods 



342 HISTORY OF THE 124TH NEW YORK VOLUNTEERS. 

up the valley of the Ny and capturing several hundred of them. 
By this attack Grant's flanking movement was disturbed and tem- 
porarily checked, but it was resumed on the following night." 

Eagan's Brigade bivouacked that night near the scene of 
Tyler's victory, and at daylight on the 20th returned to the 
Anderson Plantation where they had so unceremoniously left 
their traps and tents some twelve hours before. Here the Or- 
ange Blossoms, after scouring their weapons, spent the day very 
pleasantly lounging about on the grass, writing letters home, and 
talking over the many changes and never to be forgotten events 
of the preceding sixteen days. 

That evening the contemplated movement from Spottsylvania 
was begun in earnest — Hancock's corps leading the infantry 
advance. " At dark on the evening of the 20th," reads Eagan's 
official report — " the brigade moved to the left, crossing the Fred- 
ericksburg and Richmond R. R., near Gainey's station, passing 
through Bowling Green and halting for dinner on the plantation 
of the Confederate Colonel Fontleroy The march was then 
continued, crossing the Mattapony River at Milford station and 
halting for the night two miles beyond." Here, before lying down 
to rest, the briga.de covered its front with a light line of earth- 
works. 

On the morning of the 22d Birney's entire command, which 
now consisted of his own and Mott's divisions, moved forward in 
line of battle to the house of one Coleman, where they spent the 
greater part of the day erecting a rather elaborate line of works. 
When these were completed a small reconnoitering party was 
sent out, which soon returned and reported that the enemy's 
picket line was close at hand ; whereupon Colonel Eagan was 
directed to make a reconnoissance in force, to find out if possible 
the strength and exact whereabouts of the enemy He took with 
him the 40th N. Y., 3d Maine, and 99th Penn., and after an 
absence of several hours, returned with a solitary woe-be-gone 
dismounted Confederate cavalryman. " I advanced," said the 
Colonel to General Birney, " as far as Polecat Station, sending 
out small squads in eveiy direction. We captured the enemy's 



FROM SPOTTSYLVANIA TO PETERSBURG. 343 

outposts and main body — horse foot and dragoons. Not a man 
escaped— and here it is" — pointing to the prisoner referred to. 

About nine A. M. on the 23d the advance was resumed toward 
where the North Anna is crossed bv the Chesterfield bridge. 
Eagan's brigade was on the lead, and at one p. m. came in sight 
of the bridge, which unfortunately was not only covered by earth- 
works, but these works appeared'. to be strongly manned. A halt 
was now ordered, and the men set to throwing up a light line of 
earthworks. But at five o'clock labor on these ceased, and pre- 
parations were made for an assault. The storming party con- 
sisted of picked regiments from the brigades of Pierce and Eagan. 

■' About a quarter of a mile ahead of us," says Captain Travis, 
"ran the North Anna. From and at right angles with our line. 
as it was formed for the charge, ran a road straight down to the 
river. The right of our consolidated regiment (the 86th and 
124th, now commanded by Major Stafford,*) rested on this road. 
On our right were the Maine regiments ; and we were joined on 
the left by the 40th N. Y At the bridge were two redoubts, 
each containing two guns, and heavily manned with infantry. In 
front of these ran a well filled line of rifle trenches. The advance 
of our regiment and the 40th N. Y. was directed against the 
trenches and redoubts on the left of the bridge. About half past 
five the order to start was given and we rushed down the slope, 
and over the plain, on the run ; encountering as we went one of 
the most savage fires of shell and bullets I had ever experienced. 
But the men only rushed on all the faster. We were only a few 
moments crossing the flats but left strewn along our route nearly 
one-fifth of the charging line. Just before we reached the redoubts 
the rebels became satisfied they could not hold us back, and hur- 

* After the battle of Spottsylvania the regiment was so small that it was found 
necessary to consolidate the men for field duty into five, and soon into three companies. 
And for the same reason and purposes the regiments of the brigade were temporarily 
consolidated — the 86th and 124th acting together ; first under Lieut. Col. Lansing, 
and then under Major Stafford, both of the 86th. This union, which lasted until they 
settled down in camp in front of Petersburg, strengthened the already strong ties ex- 
isting between the two commands ; and the bond of fellowship formed in camp and on 
the march, was sealed amid the smoke and thunder of battle where their valiant dead 
fell side by side. 



344 HISTORY OF THE 124TH NEW YORK VOLUNTEERS. 

ried their guns over the bridge ; arid a moment later their entire 
force broke and fled. But leaping the ditch and scaling the 
works, we managed to reach this bridge in time to cut off and 
capture a considerable number of the hindermost. Of these the 
boys of the 124th scooped in eight, but we left not a few of out- 
number stretched on the plain." 

Swinton's account of this affair reads as follows : " Hancock's 
point of passage was the Chesterfield or Couty Bridge, a mile 
above the railroad crossing of the North Anna. Here the Con- 
federates had constructed a tete-de-pont on a tongue of land formed 
by Long Creek and North Anna, covering the bridge. On the 
north side was an extended redan with a wet ditch in front, 
the gorge being commanded by rifle trenches in the rear. On 
the Southern bank, which dominates the Northern, was a similar 
work. The tongue of land to be overpast in carrying this bridge 
head was a bare and barren plain several hundred yards in width, 
which it turned out was held by a part of McLaw's division of 
Longstreet's corps. Birney's division of Hancock's corps was 
assigned the duty of carrying the work and bridge. To cover 
the storming party Colonel Tidball, chief of artillery of the corps, 
placed in position three sections, which replied with effect to the 
enemy's fire. An hour before sundown the assault was made by 
the brigades of Pierce and Eagan, that under, a heavy fire swept 
across the open plain at double-quick. As the menacing line 
approached close to the work the garrison fled precipitately, and 
the men making a foothold in the parapet with their bayonets 
clambered over it and planted their colors on the redoubt. Thirty 
men of the defending force, unable to escape, were captured in 
the ditch. The affair was exceedingly spirited and cost less than 
a hundred and fifty men. The enemy made several attempts to 
burn the bridge during the night, but these were prevented by 
the vigilance and good behavior of the troops." 

The 124th spent the night in the redan from which it had 
helped to expel the foe. When day dawned again it was dis- 
covered that the enemy had abandoned the works on the opposite 
bank of the stream, and Hancock's command began to cross. 



FKOM. SrOTTSYLYANIA TO PETERSBURG. 345 

The 86th and 124th were among the first to pass over the bridge, 
and on reaching the Southern shore were deployed as skirmishers 
and advanced. They soon encountered the Confederate pickets 
and speedily drove them back nearly a mile, where an order to 
halt reached them. In this skirmish several more of the Orange 
Blossoms were disabled. At midnight they were relieved, and 
returned to the main line near the river. 

The Confederates' line of works just beyond the North Anna, 
were found to be so strong that the commander-in-chief wisely 
concluded it would be easier to go around than over them. He 
accordingly, during the night of the 26th, withdrew his entire 
army to the south side of the river. There Hancock's corps took 
up a strong position in which it remained until the other corps 
were well on their way toward the fords of the Pamunkey 
River. 

On the 27th Hancock cautiously withdrew, moved off after 
the others, and on the 28th crossed the Pamunkey at Nelson' Ford 
and rejoined the main army on the southern banks of that river. 
Here again the Unionists found themselves confronted by the 
wily foe, who was engaged strengthening an already formidable 
line of works along the Talapottomy Creek. 

Birney's command spent the afternoon of the 28th and morn- 
ing of the 29th erecting a line of works at the Elliot House near 
the river. But on the evening of the 29th moved forward to the 
support of Barlow's division which attacked and after a short but 
spirited engagement drove the enemy from a line of advance rifle 
pits into his main works ; in front of which Hancock's entire 
command deployed and set to work erecting a corresponding line 
of defences. This occupied their attention for two days — mean- 
time, though neither side advanced, a large amount of ammunition 
was expended. The picket lines were but a few rods apart and 
the videttes kept up a deadly fire. The artillery too, ever 
and anon opened most furiously from the opposing heights ; and 
worse and more dreaded than all else were the sharpshooters' 
bullets which kept picking off a man, first here and then there, all 
over the camp. They were bloody days in which, though no 



34:6 HISTORY OF THE 124TH NEW YORK VOLUNTEERS. 

general engagement took place, many names were added to the 
death rolls of the Second Corps. 

On the afternoon of the 30th, Major Murray was directed to 
send out to a given point several hundred feet in front of that 
portion of the line where the 124th was lying, a couple of men 
under a competent officer to stake out a new line for earthworks 
which were to be erected that night. The Major selected for 
leader of this desperate undertaking Captain Crist, of Company 
H. The brave old Captain moved resolutely forward in plain sight 
of the deadly sharpshooters, and with unusual coolness began the 
task assigned him, but before it was half completed his dead body 
instead of a stake marked the prolongation of the line on which 
the contemplated works were to be erected. At ten p. m. his 
corpse was borne back a short distance, where it was incased in 
a cracker-box coffin ; and in the gloom of night a little band of 
comrades, who had learned to love and esteem him, amid scenes 
which tried men's souls, knelt about his open grave, while Ser- 
geant Shultz of G. — who though yet suffering from wounds re- 
ceived at Chancellorsville had returned to duty — offered a prayer. 
But the petition was heard only by the God of battles to whom 
it was addressed, for just then, (says an eye witness) one of those 
terrible night scares took place on the picket lines in which each 
side imagined that the other was advancing, and the batteries all 
along that portion of the works adding their thunder peals to the 
rattle of the riflery, completely drowned the sergeant's voice. 

Captain Travis Avriting of this weird burial scene, says, " It 
was the most solemn thing I ever witnessed, and was done amid 
the thunder of artillery and rattle of musketry — a fit burial foi 
so noble a man. We miss him in the regiment, for he was a kind 
friend, a noble soldier, and a man whose whole soul was wrapped 
up in his country's cause." 

Major Murray, writing a few hours after the captain fell, bears 
similar testimony of his worth, "I regret," he says, ''to have to 
tell you that Captain Crist is dead. He was shot through the 
breast and died immediately. He is our only loss to-day, but it has 
made all our hearts sick. A braver or better man never lived, 



FROM SPOTTSYLVANIA TO PETERSBURG. 347 

or one more thoroughly determined to do his duty faithfully 
We are making arrangements to bury him. He had just gone out 
and was showing a man where to set a post as a basis for our 
works. I had been watching him and admiring the noble example 
he set the men, and was about to turn around when I saw him fall/ 
God knows our hearts are heavy to-night over his loss." 

I have said that these were bloody days. They were da}'s 
too of privation and great suffering to others than the wounded. 
Major Murray, writes in the same letter from which the above is 
quoted, " This is the first time in my life that I have ever really 
suffered from hunger. We had drawn nothing for seven days, 
and I was almost used up. Roast corn, and coffee without sugar 
has been our daily meals for two days, until this evening, when 
the train that went to Port Royal for supplies came up. I never 
relished anything better than some boiled beef, hardtack and 
coffee we had to-night." 

At about the time that Captain Crist was buried, Private 
Matthew Babcock of Co. B. was wounded in the hand. No other 
casualties are reported on that date. 

On the afternoon of June 1st, Lieutenant Charles Stewart of 
Co. I. with a detail of ten enlisted men from the 124th and an 
equal number from the 86th was sent out for a tour of duty on 
the picket line. That night Hancock's command started for Cold 
Harbor, several miles to the left. The pickets were of necessity 
left for a time to cover the movement. And before they could 
be withdrawn, the enemy discovered what had taken place, threw 
a force around to their rear ; closed in on them and captured a 
considerable number ; including Lieutenant Stewart and six en- 
listed men of the 124th. 

The first scene in the bloody battle of Cold Harbor was 
enacted on the part of the Unionists by the Sixth Corps, and por- 
tions of the 10th and 18th Corps which had just joined the Grand 
Army — or rather were joining it, for they were thrown into action 
as fast as they arrived on the field. It resulted in the carrying 
of the enemy's first line of works, the killing or disabling of about 
five hundred of his men, and (he capture of six hundred prisoners, 



348 HISTOKY OF THE 124TH NEW YORK VOLUNTEERS. 

at a cost to the two Union corps of upwards of two thousand men, 
killed and wounded. 

In the formation of the Union army for the principal assault 
which took place on the 3d of June, the Second Corps formed 
the left of the line ; but this time Birney's command was in re- 
serve, and once more the 124th, as at the battle of Fredericksburg, 
were lookers on. They saw the veterans of the old Second Corps 
(Barlow and Gibbon's Divisions) make that grand charge in which 
they drove the enemy from his works and planted their standards 
where his had been. They saw the several hundred prisoners 
taken, hurried over the captured works and across the plain to 
the Union rear. They heard the thunder of the captured cannon 
which had been turned upon the foe. And then they saw these 
gallant men driven back by the reinforced Confederates who, 
though able to regain the shelter of their works and the cannon 
they had lost, could do no more ; for Barlow's men halted and 
reformed within fifty yards of the works they had won and lost; 
and there, while one half kept up such a fire as caused the enemy 
to remain crouched down out of sight, the others speedily covered 
their front with earthworks, and established a line from which 
they could not be driven. 

This assault, extended along Grant's entire front, was made 
between four and five o'clock in the morning, and resulted in no 
more substantial gains than the capture of a few hundred prison- 
ers ; while, according to Greeley, " Twenty minutes after the 
first shot was fired fully ten thousand of our men were stretched 
writhing on the sod or still and calm in death." 

The battle closed with the Union front advanced in several 
places; and a night attack made by the Confederates was re- 
pulsed at every point. The next day a division of the enemy 
was hurled against what appeared to be a weak part of the Union 
line ; but this assault also was easily repulsed. 

Offensive operations were now suspended and for several 
days the Union army was armed with picks and shovels, instead 
of rifles and muskets. And huge works loomed up here and there, 
and trenches began to reach out toward the opposing lines. On 



FKOM SPOTTSYLVANIA TO PETEESBUE6. 349 

the 4th of June while this work was in progress, Corporal Andrew 
Jones of G. and Private William J. Miles of D. were wounded ; 
for while all else remained comparatively quiet, the whistle and 
thud of the sharpshooter's bullet continued ever and anon to 
relieve a man from duty 

At the end of a week picks and shovels were laid aside, and 
preparations made for a change of base. General Grant had re- 
solved to transfer his army, by a bold and rapid movement, to the 
banks of the James. 

On the evening of the 12th Hancock's corps, which had again 
been chosen to lead, was set in motion, and on the 14th, at the 
end of a fifty-five mile march, reached Wilcox Landing and were 
speedily transferred by steamboats in waiting, to Wind Mill 
Point, on the southern shore of the James. 

At half past ten a. m. on the 15th the advance was resumed, 
and Birney's command led the column down the Prince George 
Court House road, at a rapid gait, toward Petersburg. After a 
march of fourteen miles, made in four and a half hours, and when 
within six miles of the city, they changed direction to the right, 
without slacking their pace, and at the expiration of two hours 
came to what was called Old Court House. Here they changed 
direction to the left and again moved toward Petersburg. Heavy 
firing was in progress ahead of them, but it had almost ceased, when 
at eight p. m., after a days march of thirty miles, the}' brought up 
against, and lay down to rest behind a line of works, which had 
just before dark been carried by General Smith's command. 
Smith's troops came by another route, arriving there during the 
afternoon, and for several hours had been successfully forcing 
back the Confederate advance. 

" At daylight on the morning of the 16th," reads Bagan's bri- 
gade report — " the enemy opened upon us with their batteries, 
killing and wounding a considerable number of the brigade,- which 
was at once formed, and an assailing column, consisting of the 
17th Maine and 20th Ind., was ordered to charge and take the 
enemy's works in our front. The advance was made but the 
position being one of great strength, and held by a large force, 



350 HISTORY OF THE 124TH NEW YOKK VOLUNTEERS. 

it was found impossible to take it. The line was reformed and a 
second attempt with a larger force was made, but that also proved 
unsuccessful." 

In this last advance Lieutenant Benjamin of G was slightly 
wounded. Here too Colonel Eagan was severely wounded, and 
the command of the brigade passed to Colonel Madill, of the 141st 
Penn. Volunteers. During the afternoon the brigade changed 
position several times, but did not become actually engaged, 
though heavy fighting was continually going on all about them. 
Late in the evening, Private Judson P Lopton of H. was wounded 
in the arm by a stray bullet. 

On the morning of the 18th a general assault was ordered, 
but when the skirmish line advanced it was discovered that the 
enemy had withdrawn to an inner and stronger line, and the main 
assault was deferred. But a portion of Madill's brigade consist- 
ing in part of the 124th, advanced to within two hundred yards 
of the enemy's new line and entrenched themselves. Here Ed- 
ward Hunter of H. was mortally wounded. About noon Maj. 
Gen. Birney, then temporarily in command of the corps, ordered 
forward Gibbon's division, but it was repulsed. At six p. m. a 
general assault by the corps was made with like results. 

In this last assault Madill's command suffered terribly — los- 
ing nearly two hundred men in killed and wounded. The 124th 
which advanced with but eighty-two muskets, lost one of its best 
officers, the gallant Captain William II. Jackson killed, and had 
eight enlisted men, wounded — several of them mortally. 

Captain Jackson was a general favorite in the regiment, and 
the idol of his gallant company Brave in battle, courteous in 
camp, always at his post when wanted, never obtrusive or com- 
plaining, and ever willing, competent, and ready to perform all 
just duty required of him, he had long been pointed to by his 
superiors, as a model soldier, and looked upon by those under 
him, as one whose example was at all times worthy of imitation. 
His loss was deeply mourned by all, but especially by the little 
band of surviving veterans of Company K., every one of whom, 
though their eyes had long been dry, shed bitter tears as they 



l'UOM Sl'OTTSYLVANIA TO PETERSBURG- 351 

carried his lifeless body back to the roadside, dug his grave 
beneath a massive oak, and buried him from their sight; and 
then lingered to carve his revered name on a neat board, with 
which to mark his temporary resting place. 

About nine o'clock p m. the brigade moved up to within short 
range of the enemy's position and spent the night throwing up a 
strong line of earthworks, behind which they remained until the 
night of the 20th. While here Private William A. Lamereaux 
of E. was wounded in the side. 

At eleven p. m. on the 20th the brigade was relieved by a 
division of colored troops from the Ninth Corps ; after which they 
moved about one and a half miles to the rear and lay down, out 
of harm's way, to rest for the night. 

On the 21st the brigade, starting at nine a. m., moved slowly 
toward the left, and after several halts took a new position about 
three p. m. on the left side of the Jerusalem Plank Road. After 
remaining there about two hours they advanced to the front line 
and relieved a brigade there posted. 

" On the morning of the 22st," — sa}'s John E. Kidd of Co. 
H. — " I was one of the detail for picket taken from the 124th. 
Every thing was quiet along our picket line until about noon, 
when we were ordered to advance. A battle line followed us. 
The enemy's pickets fell back as we advanced for a short dis- 
tance, when suddenly a heavy body of Confederate infantry ap- 
peared charging at a double-quick around our flank. They soon 
routed our battle line taking a large number of prisoners. The 
only 124th man captured was John Tompkins, of Co. C." 

From the 23d to the 29th of June the brigade was moved 
almost daily, but did not become actively engaged. On the 30th 
the 124th received orders to lay out a camp and put up tents in 
a piece of woods a few yardr in rear of the main line of newly 
constructed Union works. 

The casualties of the regiment from the day it moved out of 
the main line at Spottsylvania, until it settled down on the main 
line in front of Petersburg, were as follows : 



352 HISTOKY OF THE 124TH NEW YOKE VOLUNTEERS. 



CASUALTIES OF THE 124TH, IN KILLED, WOUNDED AND 
CAPTURED FROM MAY 18 TO JUNE 22, 1864. 



Private D. F Raymond, 
" J. Vradenburgh, 



AT SPOTTSYLVANIA, MAY, 18 AND 19. 

Co. D 

'* G 



, . Wounded. 



Sergt. James A. Smith, 
Corp. Henry R. Mayette, 
Private Gabriel Colby, 
" Joseph Point, 
" Samuel Potter, 
" Daniel Ackerman, 
Daniel Smith, 



AT NORTH ANNA 
Co. 



MAY 23 AND 24. 



I. 

K.. 

K. 

K.. 

A 

A . 

G 



Wounded. 



Killed. 
Wounded. 



AT TALAPOTTOMY CREEK, MAY 30 AND JUNE 1. 



Capt. David Crist, 
Lieut. Charles Stewart, 
Sergt. Duncan W. Boyd, 

" James Sisco, 
Private Matthew Babcock, 
" Frederick Dezendorf, 
" James Crist, 
" Patrick Cuneen, 
" Samuel V Tidd, 



Co. 



H. 

I. 

C... 

F .. 

B 

C. 

H.. 

K. .. 

K... 



Killed. 

Captured. 

Wounded and Captured. 

Wounded. 

Captnred. 



AT COLD HARBOR, JUNE 4. 



Corp. G. R. Fitzgerald, 
Private William J. Miles, 



Co. 



G 
D 



Wounded. 



IN FRONT OF PETERSBURG, JUNE 16 TO 22. 

Capt. William A. Jackson, Co. 
Lieut. William H. Benjamin, " 
Sergt. Peter Rose, " 



Sergt. Watson W Ritch, 
Corp. Andrew Jones, 
Corp. H. H. Montross, 
Private John Tompkins, 
" Thomas P. Powell, 
" W. A. Lamereaux, 
" James Merritt, 
" John Eckert, 
" Edward Hunter, 
" Judson B. Lupton, 
" Patrick Kean, 
Musician, Charles W. Bodle, 



K. 

G 

A. 

K. 

G.. 

B.. 

C 

D. 

E. 

B. 

B.. 

H.. 

H.. 

I . 

A.. 



Killed. 
Wounded. 



Captured. 
Wounded. 



CHAPTER XVIII. 

In front of Petersburg — Strawberry Plains — Deep Bottom. 

ON the 20th day of June, 1864, I had recovered from my 
wounds so far as to be able to throw aside m}' crutches, 
and on the first day of July following leftNewburgh for the front. 
My journal shows that my baggage,, on this return trip, consisted 
of a regulation sabre, a contraband, a valise and an overcoat ; and 
that at seven o'clock on the morning of " The ever glorious 
Fourth," I was wandering about an indescribable place called 
City Point, searching for some sort — any sort — of a conveyance 
to take me to the regiment, which I had learned was lying some- 
where in front of Petersburg, twelve miles distant. 

I had been on my feet more than I ought during the previous 
twenty-four hours, and consequently found my locomoting ap- 
paratus somewhat unreliable, and good for but a few rodsat a time. 
Once at the hospital it would, I imagined, be a very easy matter 
to procure an ambulance ; but unfortunately the hospitals were 
two miles away, and how to get that distance was a question I 
was for a time unable to answer satisfactorily 

Presently a terrible clattering, coming from the midst of an 
immense and approaching cloud of pulverized Virginia mud, con- 
veyed intelligence that the advance wagons of a long train, after 
supplies, had arrived. Now, thought I, this weighty matter of 
transportation is as good as solved ; and directing the contraband 
to take my valise to the side of the road — for the dust was so 
thick I could see but a short distance — I sat down on it, to watch 
for a wagon marked with a diamond or a clover-leaf, (diamonds 
and clover-leaves were the shapes of the badges worn by the 
men, and painted on the wagons of our division,) but none 
passed. At length I was informed that the depot from which 



354 HISTORY OF THE 124TII NEW YORK VOLUNTEERS. 

the Second Corps drew its supplies, was several miles from 
City Point. 

Half an hour later a canvas covered wagon belonging to the 
Sanitary Commission drove past, from the opposite direction, and 
on hailing the driver I learned that he was bound to the City 
Point general hospitals, and from there to within a short distance 
of Second Corps headquarters. A moment later I was under the 
canvas, seated on a bale of blankets, and had my baggage — 
negro included — stowed away directly in front of me. 

This conveyance, like the regular army wagons, had no springs, 
and was drawn by four mules. As soon as we were fairly 
seated, the driver whipped up his team, and off we started. 
The road was quite rough, but we got along very nicely for a 
short distance, when all of a sudden down went the forward 
wheels of the wagon into a deep hole, and away went I head fore- 
most over the negro against the front boards — ■" wno-o-o, git," — 
shouted the mule lout, from the side of the road, and the next in- 
stant out went the forward wheels and down went the hind ones, 
and away I went back again, with the blankets on top of me, 
instead of my being on top of them. Fortunately I received no 
other injury from my tumblings than a slight strain of my recently 
wounded limb. 

The contraband was less fortunate than myself, for the valise 
had in some manner come in contact with his nose, with such 
force as to completely flatten it — his nose I mean. But he was 
a rather plucky individual, and after righting himself up, and 
snorting and spitting blood a few moments, gave vent to his 
wounded feelings with the exclamation, " Golly ! golly ! massa, as 
true as de good Lord lubs us dat was wus nor a secesh cabry 
charge." 

The heat w T as intense, and the farther we went the deeper the 
dust became. I had often heard of very dusty roads and could 
call to mind many a dusty march, but had no recollection of hav- 
ing heard of or seen any thing worth mentioning, compared with 
what we that day experienced. A mile from the Point it lay on 
the road so deep, that the mules seemed to be swimming in it. 



IN FRONT OF PETERSBURG. 355 

How the driver managed to find his way was a mystery to me, 
for the air was so heavily freighted with it that I frequently 
found it difficult to determine by the use of my eyes whether my 
darkey had been jounced out of the wagon, or was yet there 
with me. 

In about an hour (it seemed twenty-four hours) we turned 
from the road into the fields, where the dust was only three or 
four inches deep, and presently halted. The driver now informed 
me that we were at the General Hospitals, and that as soon as his 
mules could eat their oats he would be ready to resume his jour- 
ney — adding very significantly, " If you don't find a more agreea- 
ble coach, I would be glad of your company the rest of the way 
out." I had not been able to determine whether he was old or 
young but supposed all along that he was a colored man, but now 
his language and accent satisfied me that he was white. His 
remarks, however, seemed to be directed to the darkey, by which 
I am inclined to think he took the darkey to be me, and must of 
course have taken me to be the darkey. 

For several minutes after we alighted I was unable to dis- 
cover anything that looked like hospital tents, but after proceed- 
ing a short distance in a direction the driver had indicated, we 
emerged from the most dense part of the cloud, and presently saw 
stretching out before us avast city of tents, with numerous squares 
and long broad streets, at the head of nearly every one of which 
floated a yellow flag. In the centre of each of these flags was 
a badge, telling the passing soldiers to what corps and division 
the inmates of the tents on that street belonged. The flag also 
indicated that the particular tent in front of which it was planted 
was the headquarters of the surgeon in charge. 

I was but a few moments finding the wards containing the 
men from our division, and after spending a short time with 
such members of the 124th as I saw there, made my way to 
the quarters of the surgeon in chief, and applied for an ambulance. 
The surgeon, to my surprise, informed me that he had not seen or 
heard of an ambulance for two days, and that the sick during 
that time had been brought back in army wagons. We returned 



356 HISTORY OF THE 124TH NEW YORK VOLUNTEERS. 

very reluctantly to the sanitary commission wagon, and found 
the accommodating driver just ready to start. 

About two miles beyond the hospitals, we had the good for- 
tune to overtake an empty ambulance belonging to our brigade, 
on its way to camp. Bidding the sanitary driver good day I hur- 
riedly transferred myself and traps to this ambulance, in which 
we rode very comfortably for about three miles, when we came 
upon our brigade baggage train which was filing from the road 
and going into park in a strip of woods about a quarter of a mile 
away We drove over to the woods and there found Quartermas- 
ter Ellis Post, and his assistants— also my horses and hostler. 

The Quartermaster had a tent pitched for me, and after re- 
moving all I could of the dust, partaking of a soldier's meal, and 
enjoying a short rest, I procured a guide, and continued my jour- 
ney on horseback. On the way we passed the grave of Captain 
Jackson, and a little farther on came to our division field hospital, 
in which I found several members of the 124th. Among this 
number was Major Murray, who had been there several days, 
under treatment for fever. There, too, I found Lieutenant Crissey- 
of my old company, who had recently been relieved from detached 
service at Hart's Island, and returned to duty with the regiment. 
But his term of active service was about to close, for he was very 
near death's door. His face was bloated and his eyes swollen 
shut. I had not seen him previous to that time for nearly a year, 
and never saw him afterward. 

At five p. m. we reached our brigade camps and found the 
124th quite pleasantly situated in the shade of a grove of pines, 
where they had been lying for several days. On approaching 
near enough to see the dingy shelter tents in among the trees, 
I heard the shrill notes of a fife, accompanied by the tappings 
of a single drum ; and galloping forward my eyes rested on a 
sight I shall never forget. Captain Travis, who of the officers 
present for duty, at the commencement of the campaign stood the 
seventh in rank, was now in command, and .was holding, in honor 
of the day, what was intended to be a dress parade. The regi- 
ment had not been assembled for that purpose during the cam- 



IN FEONT OF PETEBSBUEG. 357 

paign ; the last previous dress parade having been held at Cul- 
pepper just two months and two days before, on which occasion 
the line consisted of upwards of three hundred and fifty cleanly 
clad and fresh looking men. Now there stood, drawn up before 
me, less than a hundred ragged, dirty, tired looking veterans, that 
was my regiment — all that was left fit for duty of the fighting 
men of the Orange Blossoms. In the centre of their line floated 
the new and pretty flag which had been sent them from the 
ladies of Orange, just before the campaign opened. Yes, it was 
new and beautiful still, though its stripes were rent with shell, 
its field riddled with bullets, and its splintered staff wound with 
twine. Every star was there and it was yet borne aloft by a 
noble son of Orange County whose proud face spoke volumes as, 
lowering and then lifting it again, at my approach, and watching 
my questioning look as I glanced up and down the line, he mur- 
mured louder than he thought — " gone — gone, but the old flag 
yet floats over what is left of us." Yes, the men were ragged, and 
dirty too, but they were a band of battle-tried veterans than 
which the armies of the United States contained none more noble 
or brave. 

From the 4th to the 24th of July, the men of the 124th spent 
every third day on the picket lines, and were kept busy more than 
half of the remaining time tearing down the old and building new 
earthworks. During this period there were no engagements or 
even serious skirmishes along our immediate front, but the un- 
pleasant sound of a passing shell or the whistle of a stray bullet 
frequently greeted our ears, and every little while, day and night, 
a lifeless body or a wounded man would be carried through our 
camp, from the picket trenches, main line, or fatigue parties at 
work in front. 

A few extracts from the diary of an enlisted man of the regi- 
ment will perhaps give the reader some interesting facts regard- 
ing soldier life during that period, in front of Petersburg. 

" July 5. — This morning the regiment broke camp and moved 
out to the main breastworks, in which we have spent the day, 
under arms. 



358 HISTOEY OF THE 124TH NEW YORK VOLUNTEERS. 

" July 6. — Returned to our old camp this morning and rested 
until four o'clock when an inspection was held. 

"July 7- — A day of rest, 

" July 8. — I went on picket at four p. m. — a large detail from 
the regiment went on fatigue this morning. 

"July 9.— Returned from picket at four p. m. — Capt. Bell 
of the 20th Indiana, who had charge of a portion of our brigade 
fatigue party last night, was killed by a piece of shell while super- 
intending work on a fort a short distance from our camp. 

" July 10. — At eleven o'clock last night we were all routed up 
and ordered to prepare for a march, and just before midnight 
started off. At daybreak we brought up in the deserted camps 
of the Sixth Corps which, rumor says, has been sent to Washing- 
ton. We pitched our tents there, in rear of the main line of 
works. But about noon, just as we had finished cleaning up our 
new camp, orders came to strike tents and return to our old camp, 
which we reached about three o'clock p. m. 

" July 11. — On our return to this camp we found, that during 
our absence, all our tent poles had been carried off, and we have 
spent the day hunting up new ones, and once more putting our 
camp in order. 

"July 12. — We spent all last night tearing down old earth- 
works, and this morning moved back a short distance from where 
we had been working and have spent the day in the open fields. 

" July 13. — Moved to the right about a mile and a half this 
morning, and have spent the day laying out a new camp in 
another piece of woods. 

"July 14. — Spent last night on fatigue duty 

" July 15. — On fatigue duty again last night. 

"July 1G. — In camp. 

"July 17. — Sunday This has been the most quiet day we 
have experienced since we left Culpepper — our Chaplain and the 
Chaplain of the 86th held a union service which was well at- 
tended. 

"July 18. — On picket, 

"July 19. — Returned from picket at four p. m. It had rained 



IN FRONT OF PETERSBURG. 359 

hard all day. About two-thirds of the boys are on fatigue duty 

" July 20. — About half the regiment is on picket — the rest in 
camp. 

" July 21. — Boys returned from picket at four p. m. and in 
the evening had another dress parade. 

" July 22. — All hands on fatigue. 

" July 23. — All hands in camp. 

" July 24. — We all went on fatigue at half past four o'clock 
this morning and did not get back until eight in the evening. 
We are getting very tired of the pick and shovel business. It is 
said that since we came here Hancock's men have torn down over 
twenty miles of old works. And we have built the Lord onty 
knows how many miles of new During the past month, our 
old division commander Major General D.. B. Birney has been 
assigned to the command of the Tenth Corps. The veterans of 
the " Old Third " have been consolidated into one division under 
General Mott, and our brigade which has lost the 3d Maine, and 
141st Pa., but to which the 73d N. Y and 17th Me. have been 
added, has received a new and permanent commander in the 
person of General de Trobriand." 

On the 25th of June the 48th Penn. of Bu'rnside's corps — a 
regiment which had been recruited in the mining districts, began 
a secret mining operation, the ultimate object of which was the 
destruction of one of the most powerful of the enemy's forts. 
On the 23d day of Jaly the officer in charge of this work reported 
that the mine was ready for use. It was hoped that the Union 
troops might be able to make their way through the opening to be 
made in the enemy's line by the destruction of this fort, and 
either capture Petersburg or take and hold such a commanding 
position near the city, as would render its speedy evacuation an 
absolute necessity 

As a diversion in favor of this enterprise, Hancock's command 
was ordered to proceed to Deep Bottom, and co-operate there with 
Foster and Sheridan in a demonstration against the Confederate 
lines in that vicinity At five o'clock p. m. on the 26th, Han- 
cook's column was under way. We marched down the City Point 



360 HISTOEY OF THE 124TH NEW YORK VOLUNTEERS. 

road until within two or three miles of the landing, when we 
moved from the highway over the fields to the left, and were soon 
crossing the Appomattox. At eleven p. m., we halted just be}'ond 
the river, for a half hour's rest, and then pushed on again. 

The night was very dark, but from the Appomattox forward 
our line of march was plainly marked out by small fires, which 
we found burning at regular intervals. At four o'clock, on the 
morning of the 27th, we reached the James river at Turkey Bend, 
and forthwith crossed on a pontoon bridge to Deep Bottom. 

About half a mile beyond the bridge, our advance came upon 
the enemy's pickets, and a brisk skirmish ensued. Presently a 
battle line, composed of a part of Barlow's division and three 
regiments from our brigade, advanced and drove the Confederate 
pickets in on their reserves, and then pushed the whole body back 
a mile and a half, through the woods and over an open strip of 
country called Strawberry Plains, into a strong line of earth- 
works — capturing during the advance four guns and a considera- 
ble number of prisoners. 

There was more or less fighting going on about us all through 
the day The 124th however was not sent into action, but at 
night was detailed for picket duty. At daybreak on the 28th we 
were withdrawn to the main body But an hour later, were again 
ordered out on the same duty, and took up a line about one mile 
to the left of that on which we had spent the night. This time 
we remained out, without exchanging a shot with the foe, until 
eight o'clock that evening, when we were relieved by Barlow's 
men, and received orders to hasten back to the lines in front of 
Petersburg. 

At five o'clock the next morning we bivouacked in rear of 
that portion of the Petersburg line held by the 18th corps, near 
the Appomattox. That evening our brigade moved forward 
to the main line of works, and relieved Turner's division — the 
124th occupying the rifle pits on the picket line in front, with its 
left resting at a point about a quarter of a mile to the right of the 
doomed Confederate fort. 

During the day and evening nothing unusual transpired, but 



IN PEONT OF PETERSBURG 361 

about midnight a company of artillerymen brought out several 
cohorn mortars, and planted them in positions along our line of 
rifle pits, which had evidently been prepared for their reception. 
Then all was quiet again until nearly five o'clock, when from the 
left there came a dull heavy boom, and " a solid mass of earth 
through which the exploding powder blazed like lightning play- 
ing in a bank of clouds, arose slowly some two hundred feet into 
the air; and hanging visible for a few seconds it subsided, and a 
heavy cloud of black smoke floated off" from the crater and 
shapeless piles of crumbling earth beneath which the crushed 
bodies of three hundred Confederates lay buried. 

This explosion was the signal for a simultaneous outburst 
from every piece of artillery along that portion of the Union line, 
and for four hours their thunderings were terrific. At first the 
suddenly demoralized Confederates did not reply, but after a few 
moments their shells began to fall among us, and ere long their 
bullets, too, filled the air with familiar sounds. One of their mor- 
tar shells exploded within twenty feet of where I was standing, 
and tore off the right foot of Giles Curran of Co. I. A little later 
Thomas Kincaid of Co. K. was wounded in the face, and soon a 
bullet passed through both cheeks of Corp. James H. Taylor of 
Co. F 

The bombardment continued unintermittingly until about nine 
o'clock when the artillerymen were ordered to slacken their fire. 
Meantime, the events transpiring about the demolished fort were 
far from creditable to the Union forces there engaged, " some one 
had blundered," and at night Burnside's command reoccupied the 
works it had been withdrawn from for the assault — but with over 
four thousand less men for duty than it had mustered in the morn- 
ing, while the enemy's losses in men including the three hundred 
blown up in the fort did not exceed one thousand. The details 
of this affair (known as the Burnside Fiasco) which had, to the 
Unionists, such an auspicious opening, but fearfully disastrous 
ending, have no closer connection with the 124th, than has already 
been stated, and we will therefore pass on to other more perc- 
ent, if less interesting events. 



362 HISTORY OP THE 124TH NEW YORK VOLUNTEERS. 

We were relieved from duty in Burnside's picket pits at nine 
o'clock P. m. on the 30th, by troops of the sirae division we had 
relieved when we (-Mine there ; and on reaching the main line, 
found the brigade formed in column awaiting our arrival. Falling 
in with it, we moved leisurely off to the camp we had started 
from on the 26th. 

An official report of our brigade covering the period commen- 
cing with the battle of the Wilderness and ending July 31st, 
contains the following paragraph. ''This brigade has lost since 
May 4th, in killed, wounded and missing, 126 officers and 2,543 
men. ' 

During July and the first ten days of the month of August, 
several of our men who had been on detached service, and a con- 
siderable number of convalescents from the hospitals, returned to 
duty with the regiment. Our morning report of August 11th 
showed that there were four hundred and twenty names remain- 
ing on the rolls of the regiment, and twelve officers, and one hun- 
dred and forty-two enlisted men present for duty 

On the 12th of August General Grant, undismayed by what 
he fitly characterized as the " miserable affair " of the 30th of 
July, resolved to again assume the offensive. Hancock was 
ordered to return to Deep Bottom, Avherehis depleted corps would 
be strengthened by Birney's command and Grigg's division of 
cavalry, and once more engage the enemy's forces at that point. 

Hancock's troops were relieved from the works in front of 
Petersburg at four o'clock p. m. on the 12th and at eight o'clock 
that evening, our brigade bivouacked for the night at City Point. 
This movement having been made in the day-time was of course 
seen by the enemy But to deceive the Confederate leaders as 
to our destination, it had been given out several days previously 
that Hancock's Corps had been ordered to Washington. And to 
carry out the deception a fleet of transports had been sent up the 
James to City Point. 

We found the fleet lying there with steam up and bows point- 
ing down the stream, and at twelve m. on the 13th began 
to embark. As fast as the vessels were loaded they steamed 



IN l'EONT OF PETERSBURG- 363 

ahead about a mile and there remained until midnight, when at a 
given signal they swung around and started up the river. 

The vessels having on board Gen. de Trobriand's brigade 
moved first, and that particular steamboat on which the 124th, 
together with the 73d and 86th New York, had taken passage had 
the lead. This fleet was made up of all kinds of craft from trim 
Hudson River steamboats which could make at least twenty miles 
an hour, to old turtle shape and scow-bottom ferry-boats that 
could hardly make eight. 

The vessel we were on happened to be one of the first men- 
tioned kind, and after we had proceeded about two miles its cap- 
tain, a crusty old chap, came to the upper deck where I stood 
talking with Colonel Burns of the 73d, and asked me for instruc- 
tions, to which I frankly replied that I had received none and 
referred him to Burns, who in his rough way made known that he 
was as ignorant as myself as to where the vessel was expected to 
take us ; whereupon the captain gave vent to his feelings in true 
sailor language and style ; the purport of his remarks being, that 
his pilot had never been up that creek before, that he had ex- 
pected to follow in the wake of some other boat, but had been 
started off without instructions under full head of steam ; and that 
unless he received orders to the contrary he would follow the 
middle of the stream as well as he could, and keep going until he 
ran aground or brought up against the wharfs of h — 1, " or Rich- 
mond," put in Burns, adding " I say, Weygant, I would like to 
have that old cuss in my regiment, he's a regular " — I won't write 
it. Any one who ever knew Col. Burns will be able to fill out 
the sentence correctly, and to those who never had that pleasure 
it is of no consequence. 

After we were out of sight and hearing of every other vessel, 
our brave captain evidently reconsidered his rash determination, 
for he slackened his speed so that we seemed to be lying still. 
Presently a small tug with Generals Mott and de Trobriand on 
board came puffing up the river, like a man almost out of breath, 
and passing to the front, took the lead. 

About half past four, just as the day commenced to break, we 



364 HISTORY OF THE 124TK NEW YORK VOLUNTEERS. 

reached Deep Bottom and began to disembark. As soon as our 
three regiments could be formed on the shore a strong picket line 
was established, after which we stacked arms, and lay down on 
the grass to await the arrival of the balance of the corps. 

At nine o'clock two of General de Trobriand's regiments were, 
pursuant to orders from General Mott, deployed as skirmishers, 
and followed by a supporting force composed of the remaining 
regiments of the brigade, moved forward through the woods. 

About a mile beyond the river our skirmishers were met by 
those of the enemy and the two lines soon became hotly engaged. 
But at the end of twenty minutes, the Confederates began to give 
ground and were slowly but steadily forced back into a strong 
line of earthworks on the brow of a commanding ridge. In front 
of these works our skirmishers were formed into a strong picket 
line, while our main body was massed in the woods a short dis- 
tance to the rear. 

Presently, the 124th was ordered to advance to the support 
of a section of the 4th Maine battery which had taken position 
just behind the picket line, and opened on the enemy's works. 
Just as we reached these guns, a Confederate battery began to 
reply and a rather lively exchange of iron compliments ensued. 

Our batterymen made some grand shots, causing clouds of dust 
to arise from the works in front, and sometimes apparently from 
right under the enemy's guns. These telling shots elicited from 
my men shouts of applause. Capt. Mapes especially became very 
much interested and walked up to the rear of one of the pieces 
which the gunners were about to fire, with the evident intent of 
watching more closely than he could in rear of his company, the 
effect of the shell when it exploded ; but as the commander of the 
gunners shouted " Fire," I heard from the captain a cry indicating- 
intense pain. A sharpshooter's rifle had sent a leaden " call to 
the hospital " through his thigh, splintering the bone, a piece of 
which, about the size of a minnie ball, was carried through the 
wound and clung to his pants just below the hole made in them 
by the exit of the bullet. 

A few moments later Private Allen Owen of Co. A. was 



IN FRONT OP PETERSBURG 365 

wounded severely, also in the thigh, and then Sergeant Samuel 
Rollings of the same company received a slight wound in the 
arm. 

We were lying in the outer edge of a piece of woods. About 
noon the guns were withdrawn and we moved back in among the 
trees a short distance so as to be out of sight of the Confederate 
sharpshooters, and there spent the remainder of the day and fol- 
lowing night. 

Meantime Barlow had moved around the enemy's flank and 
attacked him in rear, and Birney with a portion of the Tenth 
Corps had assaulted his lines near the river ; but the delay of the 
morning had proved fatal to the success of these eiforts, for the 
enemy was found to have been strongly reinforced at both points, 
and the assailants were forced to withdraw with considerable loss, 
and without accomplishing anything of consequence save the cap- 
ture of four guns by Birney 's command. 

On the morning of the 15th the 124th was ordered on picket. 
Our line extended across an open plain. During the day a Union 
gun-boat sent over a number of monstrous shells which were 
evidently aimed to reach the enemy, but came short of their in- 
tended destination just enough to fall on the plain along our line. 
They were almost as large as nail kegs and the noise they made was 
most hideous. Fortunately no member of 124th was killed, or 
permanently injured by them, but several had their feelings badly 
wounded. We could not only hear but could see them coming — 
right at us every time — and some of the boys who happened to 
be on their feet as one approached, were unable to remain erect, 
and of course became the laughing stock of those who had been 
so fortunate as to lie down before the heavy gun was fired. 

We were relieved from picket duty at eight a. m. on the 
16th, but had scarcely reached the mainline when I was ordered 
to move with my command out to the left, and prolong the picket 
line in that direction. To get to the position indicated it became 
necessary to pass over a narrow strip of open ground which ran 
up to the enemy's works and was swept by one of his batteries. 
The moment the head of my regimental column reached this place 



366 HISTORY OF THE 124TII NEW YORK VOLUNTEERS. 

the enemy's guns opened furiously ; but their range was rather 
high, and by crouching very low, and passing over one at a time, 
we managed to get across it and deployed over the space I had 
been directed to cover without loss. 

The greater part of this new picket line ran through the 
woods, and the men on the outposts were well protected by large 
trees; but in front of that portion held by Companies G. and K. 
was a field of grain which, like the open space referred to above, 
ran up to the enemy's works. Presently a small body of Confed- 
erates crept forward through this grain and opened on our men, 
who, standing in the open field, became conspicuous targets, the 
foe meantime remaining entirely concealed. 

At first I directed the men of these companies to lie down 
and return the fire the best they could in that position, but this 
shooting at random seemed like a useless waste of ammunition 
and I presently concluded to see what could be effected by ad- 
vancing a small force through the grain toward them. Selecting 
about a dozen men from the companies named I ordered them 
forward. Plunging into the grain which was higher than their 
heads, and firing as they advanced, they soon caught sight of, 
and brought down, two stalwart Confederates, whereupon the 
balance took to their heels and did not halt until they had 
climbed over and were safe behind their breastworks. 

In this affair Lewis T. Shultz of Co. Gr. who had been pro- 
moted from the ranks to a sergeancy for marked bravery at the 
battle of the Wilderness, and Corporal David U Quick of Co. 
K, behaved with conspicuous gallantry. They were both wounded 
just as they started, the sergeant in the hand and the corporal 
in the face and arm, but neither turned back until after the enemy 
had been routed ; and even then the bullets from their guns 
were the last sent after the fleeing Confederates. 

After this the day passed very quietly without anything of 
consequence transpiring along General Mott's front. But we 
heard during the afternoon heavy cannonading to our right, 
and subsequently learned that General Birney's troops had made 
a direct assault on the enemy's works about a mile distant, cap- 



IN FRONT OF PETERSBURG 367 

turing three battle flags and upwards of three hundred prisoners ; 
but had in the end been driven back with considerable loss. 
Also that a brigade from Barlow's division had been operating, 
with Grigg's cavalry, on the Charles City Cross Road, still farther 
away ; but without achieving any advantageous results for the 
Union cause, save the killing of the Confederate General Chain- 
bliss, and the disabling of a few of his followers. 

The 124th was not relieved from this tour of picket duty until 
nine p. m. on the 17th. And at nine p. m. on the 18th Hancock's 
entire command was well on its way toward Petersburg again. 

CASUALTIES OF 124TH IN FRONT OF PETERSBURG:, 

JULY 30, 1864. 

Corp. James H. Taylor, Co. 
Private Giles Curran, 

" Thomas Kincade, " 

" Cornelius Hughes, " 

" William H. Jackson. " 

" Patrick Flannery, " 

CASUALTIES AT DEEP BOTTOM, AUGUST 14 TO 16, 1864. 

Capt. William E. M ape.-, Co. B.. Wounded. 

Sergt. Samuel T. Rollings, " A. " 

Sergt. Lewis T. Shultz, " G 

Corp. David U. Q uick, " K " 

Private Allen Owen, " A " 



F 


Wounded 


I. 




K 




Or. 




G. 




A. 





CHAPTER XIX. 

In front of Petersburg — Battle of Boydton Road. 

WE recrossed the Appomattox near Bermuda Hundred at 
half past eleven p. m. on the 18th of August, and con- 
tinued our return march at a moderate gait until daybreak, when 
the welcome order, " Halt half an hour for breakfast," was passed 
down the column. While the boys were boiling their coffee a 
severe storm, which had been brewing since midnight, " opened 
upon us." But promptly at the end of the allotted half hour the 
forward was sounded, and hurrying into line we resumed the 
march, plodding on through the continually deepening mud and 
drenching rain until midday, when we reached the main line in 
front of Petersburg. There we stacked arms behind a portion of 
the works which had been erected and occupied up to within a 
few days by troops of the Fifth Corps, but which were vacated 
on our arrival by a brigade of Burnside's men. Our new position 
was about three miles to the left of the one we had marched from 
on the 12th. 

We had been on duty nearly every night as well as day for 
over a week, and were consequently thoroughly worn down. 
The rain continued to fall quite heavily and our tents were soon 
pitched. But the muddy ground was a most uninviting resting 
place and as the men could not well become any more thoroughly 
soaked than they were when we arrived, the greater part of the 
afternoon was devoted to collecting pine boughs for beds, and clean- 
ing up our camp; for a regiment of soldiers changing camp, like 
a family moving from one hired house to another, usually leave 
a vast amount of filth scattered about the premises they vacate, 
and then say very hard things about the " dirty brutes " who 
have just left the place they are moving into. 



IN FRONT OF PETERSBURG 369 

It was unusually quiet along our front that afternoon, but 
about nine o'clock in the evening the guns, in two of the enemy's 
forts, were opened on our brigade camps and the works we were 
occupying. And they continued to hurl their shot and shell at 
regular intervals all night and the greater part of the following 
day ; making things very lively around General de Trobriand's 
headquarters where, during the night, hvo men who were on guard, 
and three horses, were wounded with pieces of shell. 

The pickets, too, opening simultaneously with the artillery, 
kept up an incessant rattling all along the front, and a considera- 
ble number of stray bullets went whistling through the camp of 
the 124th ; but the only man of our number wounded on that oc- 
casion was little Jimmy Daniels of Co. C, who was hit in the leg. 
Some of their cannon balls too, must have landed in our camp, for 
on a soiled leaf of my journal, under date of Aug. 20th, 1864, I 
find the following entry, "A solid shot just struck the ground 
in front of my tent and spattered the mud on this leaf, and in my 
face, and all over my best coat." 

A few pages further on I come to this note — " That unfortu- 
nate best coat of mine is a total wreck. I rode over to the train 
this morning on my new mare to see Quartermaster Post, and 
came out of his tent laughing over some new joke of his ; and un- 
mindful of the fact that the secesh brute was in the habit of acting 
badly when any one attempted to mount her, took the reins from 
a man who was holding her, and in a very careless manner placed 
my foot in the stirrup and gave a spring ; but before I had fairly 
reached the saddle she reared, and with a desperate plunge which 
jerked one of the bridle reins from my hand and hurled the op- 
posite stirrup over her back, bounded off through the tall stumps 
which stood only a few feet apart, for before our arrival in front 
of Petersburg, all that section had been a vast forest. Having 
but one stirrup and one rein I was unable to guide the mad 
beast ; and as she plunged around, first this way and then that, 
among the stumps, the prospect of having my brains dashed out 
against one of them became anything but agreeable. Presently 
I saw, just ahead, a strip of cleared ground, which had evidently 



370 HISTORY OF THE 124TH SEW YORK VOLUNTEERS. 

been a roadway, and remembering the old adage, discretion is 
the better part of valor, concluded to make a landing there re- 
gardless of appearances ; for I knew that a dozen or move Quar- 
termasters with their attendants were watching the result of my 
wild ride. The moment I passed the last row of stumps, I 
dropped the rein and sprang upward. Of course I did not sit 
down on the ground very gracefully, or as easily as usual, but I 
remained very quiet for a few seconds after I got there. When 
I picked myself up I discovered that my left wrist was sprained, 
and that I had very foolishly bil ten my tongue. Lieutenant Post 
soon came up and began brushing my clothes. I swallowed the 
blood from my lacerated tongue and said not a word about my 
sprained wrist, for I prided myself on my superior horsemanship. 
Presently Post said to me in his dry way ' Colonel, I am afraid 
you have your coat on wrong side before. The buttons are in 
front but it is open behind.' " 

Turning over a few more pages of my journal T read, "Another 
court-martial has been ordered, and as usual I am a member of it. 
It is only three days since the old court was dissolved. The new 
court held its first session to-day, in a large house near division 
headquarters. While there I met the gay and clashing General 

, who is evidently bent on being the best mounted officer 

in the corps. He offered me eight hundred dollars for my mare, 
lie saw her at the review the other day ; and she did behave 
splendidly on that occasion. When I wheeled to salute the re- 
viewing officer, she gave her immense tail a graceful wave and 
followed the motion of my sabre with her bold head, raising her 
nostrils high in the air, and then dropping them down between 
her forelegs with a coquettish shake that tossed her long mane 
in a most airy manner ; as if she knew all about what was taking 
place and had resolved to outdo her rider. If I can get an even 
thousand dollars I think I will let her go." The next entry 
reads : " Have not only lost the sale of my mare, but have 
been ordered not to ride her on review again. General Meade 
reviewed us this afternoon and when I saluted the treacherous 
brute instead of performing her graceful antics made one of 



IN FRONT OF PETERSBURG 371 

her desperate plunges, right at a group of generals who had taken 
post to the left of Meade, and wheeling about, let go her hind 
feet, striking and I fear breaking the jaws of the horse of a grev- 
h aired General whose name I did not learn. His poor docile 
beast when struck started back a few yards and sat down on his 
haunches pointing his trembling nose skyward like a superannuated 
setter dog that had just treed a possum ; and letting his rider slip 
gracelessly off behind, to the mingled amusement and annoyance 
of all who witnessed the occurrence, except the old General and 
myself. We received a double share of the annoyance without 
partaking in the slightest degree of the opposite feeling." 

From the 20th of August to the 9th of September very little 
of general interest transpired in Mott's division, the troops of 
which were as usual kept busy building earthworks and doing 
picket duty 

An interesting private letter written in the camp of the 124th 
on the 28th of August contains the following. " The regiment is 
still in. the trenches, and has been since the morning of the 19th. 
The opposing lines here are in such close proximity that it is no 
trouble to talk with the Johnnies from the main works. The 
picket lines in several places are not over fifty feet apart. At 
night a man is sent out several paces in front of each post. There 
is one place on our lines where the opposing sentinels can almost 
shake hands with each other. There is no picket firing at pres- 
ent along our front, a compromise having been effected between 
the pickets, by which our boys when not too closely watched by 
their officers, trade all sorts of Yankee notions for tobacco. The 
Johnnies have a queer way of talking. They either learned it 
from the darkeys, or else the darkeys learned from them. Our 
pickets are posted about one hundred feet apart and stand in pits 
about four feet deep and just large enough to hold two persons. 
Between the picket pits and main works is a line of abatis made 
of trees with the ends of the branches trimmed sharp, and point- 
ing toward the enemy These trees are placed side by side close 
together, and the buts are fastened in the ground very securely 
Every company has one or more gopher holes or bombproofs, 



372 HISTORY OF THE 12 4TH NEW YORK VOLUNTEERS. 

which are made by digging pits in the earth and covering them 
over with heavy logs and dirt. We don't particularly mind the 
shell from the enemy's forts for they usually pass over our camp, 
but occasionally a mortar battery which is located directly oppo- 
site opens, and for an hour or more pieces of iron fly about in a 
very careless manner. At such times we usually find it con- 
venient to step inside our bombproofs and fix them up a little, 
for you know we can't tell how soon we may have occasion to use 
them. You would enjoy sitting down behind our main works 
during one of our regular artillery duels ; I was on duty this morn- 
ing when one took place. The enemy opened the affair from his 
forts. The first shot was rather high and one of our men jnmped 
up on the works and shouted, " Oh bosh ! Johnnies what is the 
use of shooting at the sun." Presently a shell struck and ex- 
ploded in our works scattering the dirt about at a great rate and 
endangering life and limb, whereupon some one raised up and 
shouted, " Bully for you ! now go for the sun once more, won't 
you ? " Quite a number of the Johnnies were standing on their 
works watching the effect of their shells, but when our battery 
opened you ought to have seen them drop, and after that both sides 
lay low until the circus was over. There is no musketry firing, 
but these artillery duels take place nearly every morning and 
eA^ening, making it very uncomfortable for those of us who are 
used to a quiet life in the country. I wish I could give you a 
correct idea of the face of the earth about Petersburg, but that is 
impossible to me with a pen. I really believe it would cost at 
the present price of labor, a thousand dollars an acre to level and 
prepare the ground for agricultural purposes again. Immense 
furrows follow each other over a strip of ground nearly a mile 
wide, and the principal ones are about fifteen miles in length. I 
have seen a line of works that would reach from Newburgh to 
Cornwall and back " (10 miles) "built in a single night. This 
belt of earthworks is fringed with road pits which run back 
toward the rear, and are built in a zig-zag fashion, like rail fences 
at the north, with the dirt thrown up on the side toward the 
enemy They have been made for the protection of all the trains, 



IN FRONT OF PETERSBURG- 373 

but more particularly for that of the ammunition wagons which 
are sometimes obliged to come up to the works under fire. A 
secesh band is playing ' Wait for the Wagon,' and ours will soon 
reply with ' The red, white, and blue,' or some other patriotic song." 

On the evening of the sixth of June, I sat on our earthworks 
for over an hour watching shells pass through the air and fall into 
Petersburg. They were fired from two immense siege guns, 
called the twin-sisters which had been planted in an earthwork 
prepared especially for them off to the right and over two miles 
from the city. These guns were elevated so that one would sup- 
pose the shells they sent were fired from a mortar They would 
mount up higher and yet higher, going slower and slower until 
they seemed to stand still up among the stars, and then slowly 
turning a quarter circle would begin their downward flight, mov- 
ing faster and faster until they exploded over or dropped into 
the city These shells, in their passage up in the heavens and 
down to the earth again, were suggestive of huge darting fire-flies 
and when at the turning point seemed twinkling stars — the fire of 
the burning fuse appearing and disappearing at regular intervals. 

The majority of the females whose homes were in Fredericks- 
burg had, it was said, gone to visit friends and relatives in other 
and safer places, or were camping with their children and slave 
attendants in the adjacent fields, out of range of Yankee cannon 
balls ; but not a feAv of the young Avomen remained in the city 
showing their lovers how to be brave. 

On returning to my quarters that evening I found awaiting 
my arrival, an order from General de Trobriand which directed 
me to hold the regiment in readiness to move to another camp as 
soon as it was dark enough to do so unobserved by the enemy 

We moved about midnight, but only from forty to fifty rods. 
The camp we moved into was much better supplied with bomb- 
proofs than the one we left. 

On the 7th I received a letter from Major Murray, who was 
home on sick leave, stating that Robert A. Malone of Middletown, 
who had been engaged for several weeks raising a company of 
volunteers for the regiment, had enrolled sixty-eight men nearly 



374 HISTORY OF THE 124TH NEW YORK VOLUNTEERS. 

every one of whom had seen service in other regiments. I wrote 
to Gov. Seymour that evening requesting that a captain's commis- 
sion be issued to Malone, and that a First Lieutenant's commis- 
sion be issued to John S. King, also of Middletown, who had as- 
sisted Capt. Malone in raising the company They had both held 
commissions in another regiment and proved to be most efficient 
officers. The position of Second Lieutenant I reserved for Wood 
T. Ogden, the efficient orderly of K., with which company I pro- 
posed to incorporate the majority of Malone's men. 

Small squads of convalescents now rejoined us almost daily. 
And I had since my return on the 4th of July received Lieuten- 
ant's commissions for Sergeants Jonathan Birdsall of A., Thomas 
Taft of C, and Ebenezer Holbert of D. Each of these had been 
assigned to the command of a company, but on the 8th of Septem- 
ber, there was yet one company for which I had no commissioned 
officer. 

On the evening of the 9th, I received orders directing me to 
assemble my regiment at half past twelve that night and hold it in 
readiness to support the 20th Ind. ,99th Penn. and 2d U S. S. S., 
in an attack " which is to be made," so reads the order " for the 
purpose of capturing the enemy's pickets and line of [tits." A 
surprise was to be attempted, but if our movements were dis- 
covered a bold dash was to be made. 

At one o'clock the attacking party crept out right on to the 
enemy's videttes before they were discovered, captured and hur- 
ried back to the main works over a hundred of them, and with 
but trifling loss established the Union line where that of the 
Confederates had been. But ten minutes later the work of death 
began in earnest, and the night was made hideous with discordant 
sounds. Every battery and fort for miles around began a furious 
cannonade, the pickets opened all along the lines on both sides of 
us, and three times the enemy in our front charged de Trobriand's 
line, determined to retake the lost ground. But they did not 
succeed, and at last gave up the task and established a new line 
nearer their earthworks. This attack was made at a point where 
the main lines were a considerable distance apart, and where the 



IN FRONT OF PETERSBURG. 375 

enemy's pickets had been creeping out a few feet at a time until 
they occupied two-thirds of the intervening space. They had 
by this assault simply been forced to take up a new line in the 
proper place. That at least was the version of the result given 
by our gallant and punctilious French brigadier. 

In the enemy's attempts to retake his lost line of picket 
pits, a large number were killed and wounded on both sides. 
Among the Union killed were Lieutenant-Colonel Mickel, com- 
manding officer of the 20th Ind., and Private George G. King, a 
member of Co. C. of the 124th, who had for several months past 
been on duty with the ambulance train. When a call was made 
for a stretcher on which to carry off Colonel Mickel, King rushed 
forward with one, through a perfect shower of bullets ; but was 
shot through the heart before he reached the Colonel's body. 
The regiments already named were the only Union troops called 
into action, and early the next morning I sent a detachment to 
bury our brave stretcher-bearer. 

After this affair the picket firing was incessant and most des- 
perate for over a week. If a man raised his head, on either side 
a score of bullets were fired at it. The pickets could be relieved 
only at midnight and then were frequently obliged to crawl back 
and forth on their hands and knees. On the 12th Joseph Point 
of B. was severety wounded in the head. On the 14th Corp. 
Chester Judson of II. was shot through the brain, and on the 
15th Martin Campbell of B. was killed ia like manner. 

Judson and Campbell were both shot in the daytime, and 
I think in the morning, but their bodies could not be removed 
until night. I leave the reader to imagine the feelings of the 
solitary vidette doing double duty, hour after hour with his com- 
rade's dead body lying in the narrow pit beside him, and then, 
when relieved at night he creeps back to the main works dragging 
the lifeless cla}'" after him. 

Lieutenant Taft writing concerning the burial of Corporal Jud- 
son says, " We buried him by moonlight, and it was a most sol- 
emn scene. We wrapped him in his blanket and placed him in 
a cracker box coffin, a prayer was offered at his grave which was 



3?6 HISTORY OF THE 124TH NEW YORK VOLUNTEERS. 

dug and filled again by the chief mourners, and I reported one 
man less for duty." 

On or about the 20th the pickets ceased firing at each other, 
and everything in camp moved along very quietly until the 26th 
when the paymaster put in his appearance. The effect of his 
arrival is described in a letter written in the camp of the 124th 
the next day as follows, " The long looked for — the paymaster I 
mean — came yesterday. Greenbacks are good for the eyes and 
have a most wonderful effect on the countenance. Two days 
ago every one I met looked downhearted, now every one I see 
wears a broad smile on his face, and I can't help looking off toward 
the sutler's tent and slapping my pocket. Who wouldn't be a 
soldier ? Did you ever work hard at least twelve hours out of 
every twenty-four, and wander listlessly about between times 
for over two months at a stretch, without a cent in your pocket 
and no credit at the store ? If not you will be unable to appre- 
ciate my feelings on this occasion." 

We were making, about this time, strenuous efforts to fill up 
the regiment and Secretary Seward had promised Major Murray 
to see that several hundred drafted men were sent to us. About 
the first of October Colonel Tracy commanding Draft Rendezvous 
at Elmira, N Y., was directed to forward us two hundred men. 
Instead of attempting to account for what became of these men, 
I will insert a verbatim copy of a communication made in regard 
to them, with the indorsements thereon. 

" Head-Quarters 124th N. Y. Vol., October 12, 1864. 

Major D. D. Perkins, A. A. 0. 

" I respectfully report that on the eighth of this month, I received from 
Col. B. F. Tracy comd'g. Draft Rendezvous at Elmira, N". Y., muster 
and descriptive rolls that had originally contained the names of two hun- 
dred (200) men, but from which one hundred and eighteen had been ruled 
off, leaving eighty-two names yet on the rolls. With these rolls there 
came to my regiment but seven (7) men and not one of the remaining 
number have since arrived. 

" Very respectfully yours, 

" Ohas. H. Weygant, 

"Lieut. Col. Comd'g." 



IN FRONT OF PETERSBURG. 377 

"War Dept., A. G. O. Washington, D. C, Oct. 18,1864. 

"Respectfully referred to commanding officer Draft Rendezvous, El- 
mira, N. Y., for his report on this communication, stating to whom and 
at whar point the men referred to were turned over, with date — -To be re- 
turned. 

" By order 

"D. D. Perkins, Asst. Adjt.-Genl" 

" Head-Quarters Draft Rendezvous, Elmira, N. Y. Oct. 23, 1864 

" Respectfully returned to Maj. D. D. Perkins A. A. Gen. — I have the 
honor to make the following report. Eighty-two (82) substitutes for the 
124th N. Y. Vols., were forwarded from this post Oct. 3d, 1864, and 
turned over to the Provost- marshal at City Point, Va., Oct. 6th, 1864. 
"B. P. Tracy, Col. 12?th U. iS. C. T. ComcVg Post." 

"War Dept. A. G. O. "Washington, Oct. 26, 1864. 

" Respectfully returned (through commanding general of the army of 
the Potomac) with reference to endorsed report of Col. B. F. Tracy com- 
manding Draft Rendezvous Elmira, N. Y. 

" By order 

"D. D. Perkins, Asst. Adjt.-Gen." 

"Head-Quarters Army op the Potomac, Oct. 30, 1864. 

"Respectfully returned to commanding officer 124th N". Y. Vols. 
through comd'g officer Second corps. 

" By command of 

" Maj. General Meade. 
" Chas. E. Pease, Assistant Adjutant- General." 

" Head-Quarters 2d Army Corps, Oct. 31, 1864. 

"Respectfully returned to comd'g. officer 124th N. Y. Vols, through 
comd'g. officer 3d Division. 

" By order of 

" Maj. General Hancock. 
"Sept. Carncross, Maj. & A. A. 67." 

"Head-Quarters 3d Division, 2d Army Corps, Oct. 31, 1864. 

"Respectfully returned to C. 0. 124th K Y Vols, through C. 0. 

1st Brigade. 

" By command of 

"Maj. General Mott. 
"B. P Pinkilmuier, Assistant Adjutant-General" 

" Head-Quarters 1st Brigade 3d Division 2d Corps, Nov. 2, 1864. 

"Respectfully returned to CO. 124th N. Y. V.— As these endorse- 
ments do not afford anv information concerning the whereabouts of the 



378 HISTOEY OF THE 124TH NEW YORK VOLUNTEERS. 

men in question the C. 0. 124th N. Y. V will make another application 
concerning them. 

" By command of 

"Bkig. General R. de Tkobriand. 
"Aug. W Keene, Assistant Adjutant- General." 

Received at Head-Quarters 124-th K Y. Vols. Nov. 3, 1864. 
"Wii. B. Van Eotjten, Adjutant." 

This piece of red tape had passed nround an extended circle 
until the ends had come together, hut it had not been run through 
the headquarters of our worth?/ and efficient provost-marshal gen- 
eral. A second communication met with like usage, and not one 
of the missing men ever reached the 124th. 

On the last day of September, offensive operations against the 
enemy at Deep Bottom were resumed, and for several days there 
was severe fighting at different points along the Petersburg and 
Richmond lines ; but the 124th did not become actually engaged. 
We however moved about considerably, and did a vast amount 
of work with axes, picks and shovels. On the first day of Octo- 
ber our division was hurried out of camp to the railroad station 
near the Jerusalem Plank Road. There we found awaiting us 
a train of cars on which we were conveyed forthwith to the ex- 
treme Union left, where Warren with a heavy force had succeeded 
in extending his lines so that they crossed the Weldon railroad, 
one of the enemy's main arteries for supplies. We found War- 
ren's forces were having all they could do to hold fast of their 
prize ; and the most of our division was hurried forward to their 
assistance. The 124th with six other regiments of our brigade 
were however set to work cutting drive ways through a strip of 
woods, and building a strong redoubt in front of a Confederate 
mansion called the Clement House. After spending three days 
and nights at this work, we were relieved by General Ferrero's 
division of colored troops, and our brigade moved leisurely back 
to the Jerusalem plank road, and encamped in the second lina near 
Fort Sedgwick. We were not however out of range of the enemy's 
bullets, and as usual were kept busy at fatigue and picket duty. 

The fourth day after our arrival at this camp, pickets came 



IN FRONT OF PETERSBURG 379 

in, bearing with them the dead body of Private Grant B. Benja- 
min of Co. Gr. ; and reported that just as they were being relieved 
Benjamin raised up from a sitting posture, and was in the net of 
folding his blanket when a bullet, from the gun of some sharp- 
shooter off to the Confederate rear, passed through his brain, 
killing him instantly Private Benjamin was a good soldier, 
and was followed to his grave by a large number of saddened 
comrades. 

The next day, Oct. 10th, Private Benjamin Little of B. was 
temporary disabled by a bullet, and on the 20th Corporal Theo- 
dore Smith of A. was so badly injured that he never returned 
to duty with the regiment. 

On the 22d while the men were busy preparing for inspection, 
a bullet came whistling through the camp, and the sound of that 
peculiar thud which always told such a sad story, came from the 
direction of Lieutenant Birdsall's tent, and Orderly Sergeant Wood 
of Co. A. hastened thither, but only to find the dead body of 'his 
company commander. A little red spot on his forehead told once 
again, plainer than words can express it, that now most familiar 
story of the enemy's fatal bullet. 

Lieutenant Jonathan Birdsall was then our junior officer in 
years as well as rank, and was greatly esteemed by all who knew 
him. There was in his case one most comforting thought. In 
all the regiment there was not a person believed by his comrades 
to be ever more ready to meet death than young Birdsall. He 
was a thorough gentleman as well as christian, and of course had 
the respect of those under him and the esteem of his superiors. 
His brother officers had his body embalmed and placed in a 
metallic coffin, and expressed home to his friends. 

That night I wrote as following, in my journal — " Poor brave 
noble little Birdsall — somehow I cant draw my thoughts from 
him. Our camp is the most exposed of any along this portion of 
the line. Nearly every tent in it has been pierced by Confeder- 
ate bullets, or torn by shell. Every few moments, day and night, 
a piece of lead whistles through or falls into it. Not long since 
a minnie passed through my own tent just above my head. As I 



380 HISTORY OF THE 124TH NEW YORK VOLUNTEER'S. 

was walking to supper this evening with Major Murray, one 
buried itself in the ground not a yard away, and directly behind 
us. The Major thought it had entered my body, and I felt sure 
it had wounded him. If my life-blood is to be drawn by a rebel 
'bullet, or if many more of my brave boys are to fall, I trust it 
may be on the battle-field in a square open fight." 

As the month of October drew toward its close, it became 
very apparent to all close observers, that General Grant did not 
intend to let us settle down into winter quarters, until we had 
made at least one more attempt to take Petersburg and Richmond ; 
for the fall of either would, it was believed, necessitate the evacua- 
tion of the other 

The first movement of importance, in the contemplated plan 
of active operations, was to be a determined effort to wrest from 
the enemy, the Southside railroad ; which had now become the 
chief channel of communication between Petersburg and the 
country in its rear, and was protected by an advanced line of 
earthworks, several miles in extent. 

The task of attacking these works was assigned to the Ninth 
and Fifth corps; while Hancock's command, accompanied by 
Gregg's division of cavalry, was ordered to move around to the 
west side of Hatchers' Run, sweep across the Boydton road and 
seize the coveted Southside railroad. 

The 124th now mustered for duty sixteen fighting officers 
and upwards of two hundred and thirty enlisted men. The brave 
Captain Benedict — though his wounds were not yet entirely 
healed — had returned to the regiment, and been assigned to 
duty as acting Major, while Major Murray took the position of 
Lieutenant-Colonel. Our plucky sharpshooter Lieutenant Car- 
mick was once more in command of Company F., and Lieutenant 
Thomas W Bradley who had recently been promoted from a 
sergeantcy in H. had been assigned to the command of company 
B. With a full field, and with each little company under a true 
and tried commander, I felt very confident that in the coming 
conflict the 124th would perform most creditably whatever duty 
was assigned it. 



IN FRONT OF PETERSBURG. 381 

During the night of the 24th, such of the troops of the corps 
mentioned as could be spared from the main line, were withdrawn 
and massed in neighboring ravines, out of sight of the enemy 
On the afternoon of the 26th Hancock's command moved to the 
left as far as the Weldon road and there bivouacked for the 
night. 

About four o'clock on the morning of the 27th the Ninth and 
Fifth corps, which had moved out and taken position during the 
night began to advance, and Mott's division, led by our brigade 
resumed its march along the Vaughan road. Very little worthy 
of note transpired until we were within half a mile of Hatchers' 
Run when brisk skirmish firing broke out in front of us, and we 
soon overtook Gibbon's old division now under General Eagan ; 
(Eagan was formerly colonel of the 40th New York of our bri- 
gade) which we found drawn up in battle line and preparing to 
force a passage of the stream which was defended by a small 
force of the enemy posted behind a light line of rifle pits. This 
Eagan's troops soon accomplished without our assistance ; after 
which we crossed at our leisure and moved on in column with 
flankers on our left, following their battle line 

It was now nearly ten o'clock and we could hear heavy can- 
nonading off to our right. The farther we advanced the sharper 
grew the skirmish firing along Eagan's front, and every few mo- 
ments a. wounded man would be carried past toward the rear. 
Some of these wounded men looked very pale and others pre- 
sented blood-stained faces or garments, suggesting unpleasant 
thoughts to those who wore pressing forward, for all believed we 
would soon find our advance disputed by a battle line instead of 
skirmishers. 

Presently an order came for our brigade to move to the front 
and relieve the brigade on the left of Eagan's line. Hastily form- 
ing battle line and throwing out the 73d N. Y. and 2d U. S. S. S. 
as skirmishers we started forward on a double-quick and soon 
reached the troops we were to relieve. This brigade had for 
some cause fallen considerably behind the rest of Eagan's line 
and on our approach moved by the right flank on a run out of 



382 HISTORY OF THE 124TH NEW YORK VOLUNTEERS. 

our way Our skirmishers soon became actually engaged with 
those of the enemy and drove them rapidly back out of the 
woods, over an open field, and then into the woods again, behind 
an old steam mill. At this mill we came up to and connected 
our right with Eagan's battle line, and pushed on with it until 
we reached the Boydton road. Here our entire corps was halted 
by an order from General Meade. Our brigade was then moved 
to the left, to make room between our right and Eagan's left 
for the balance of Mott's division which consisted of the brigades 
of Pierce and McAllister. 

General de Trobriand's command now constituted the extreme 
Union left. His battle line extended across an open field, with 
regiments posted from right to left in the following order: 99th 
Pa., 110th Pa., 20th Ind., 40th N. Y., 1st Me. heavy artillery* 
and 17th Me. Volunteers. The 73d and 86th N. Y were ad- 
vanced a third of a mile and so deployed as to cover both front and 
flank of his main line ; connecting on the left with the cavalry 
pickets, and on the right with the 124th N Y., which was posted 
in a rather extended battle line at the outer edge of a piece of 
woods, across a road down which it was expected the enemy 
would attempt to advance. The line of the 73d and 86th ran in 
the form of a quarter circle through a dense wood ; but along the 
entire front of the 124th there was an open field about twenty 
rods in width. On the opposite side of this field the trees were 
large and grew very close together. The 2d U. S. S. S. was 
posted as a reserve to the picket line composed of 73d and 86 th. 
The pickets of Mc Allisters brigade were supposed to extend to 
the right of the 124th. 

Hancock had been ordered to connect his right with the left 
of Crawford's division of the Fifth corps, but unfortunately no 
one seemed to know just where Crawford's left rested ; and 
General Eagan was accordingly directed to move cautiously 
through the wood to the light, with the bulk of his command, 
and see if he could not find it and make the desired connection. 

* This regiment was actiug as infantry, had recently been attached to our brigade 
and carried over a thousand rifles. 



IN FRONT OF PETERSBURG 383 

Now Crawford's advance had run into an almost impenetrable 
swamp a mile to the rear, and Eagan, at the end of an hour, was 
no nearer the object of his search than when he started. 

Meantime the enemy, who it appears was better acquainted 
with the situation of affairs along the Union lines than our own 
commanders, and had been waiting patiently a favorable opportu- 
nity for striking a telling blow, hurried off a portion of Hill's 
corps under General Heath, against General Mott's isolated 
division. 

The first intimation Mott had of an advance in force against 
him, came about four o'clock P. M. in the shape of a furious charge 
on Pierce's brigade, which, startled by the unexpected attack, 
gave way and fell back in disorder, leaving two guns to fall into 
the hands of the enemy Fortunately Eagan, who was not far 
away, hearing the thunder of battle in his rear, about faced and 
hastened to the rescue with half of his division, and joined by 
McAllister's brigade, and the 99th Pa. and 20th Ind. from the 
right of de Trobriand's line, dashed forward with wild shouts, on 
a most gallant counter-charge, routing Heath's entire force, retak- 
ing the guns Pierce had lost, and capturing over a thousand 
prisoners. 

While the battle was raging along Mott's right and centre a 
flanking force of dismounted cavalry, accompanied by a battery 
of rifled guns, came thundering down the road held by the 124th 
until brought to a halt by our bullets ; when hastily deploying, 
and creeping up to the edge of the woods opposite, they opened 
a most furious counter-fire with small arms while shells from their 
battery, planted across the road, tore through the trees in a most 
unpleasant manner, Those of my men who could not get shelter 
behind the trees, threw themselves on the ground, and all kept 
up as rapid a fire as they possibly could. 

Presently one of General de Trobriand's aids rode up, and 
presenting the compliments of his chief, said he was sent to in- 
quire whether I did not think I could silence that battery in 
my front by capturing it, I told him to tell the general that 
we could try. but that the assistance of at least one regiment 



384- HISTORY OF THE 124TH NEW YORK VOLUNTEERS. 

would be very acceptable. Fifteen minutes later back came the 
aid with the Sharpshooters and the General's order to " Go 
ahead and be sure you get the guns." 

The commander of the sharpshooters rode boldly up to the 
front, and taking off his slouched hat shouted, " Halloo, Colonel — 
here we are at your service." But before I had time to give him 
any instructions, a bullet tumbled him from his horse ; where- 
upon his men, without waiting for orders, rushed forward and, 
scattering themselves along the line, dropped down on their 
knees, and opened fire as deliberately as if each man of the little 
regiment had determined to personally revenge the fall of his 
leader. They were none too soon, for just then a battle line of 
the foe appeared in the open field, intent on charging us ; but 
the telling fire from our consolidated line soon sent them back in 
confusion. Now, thought I, is our time to strike. I was at the 
left of my line, where I had gone to send word of our intention 
to Colonel Lansing of the 86th, and to ask his skirmishers who 
were not engaged to look after our flank, and was about to hasten 
back to the centre, and order the charge, when Lieutenant Rath- 
borne of the 86th came running up with, as I supposed, a mes- 
sage from Lansing. While in the act of turning around to 
receive this message a bullet passed through my side and entered 
the body of the Lieutenant, and as he fell I tumbled over him — • 
into darkness. 

On my return to consciousness Sergeant Tom Hart, of my 
old company, and a private soldier whose name I do not remem- 
ber, were carrying me through an open field. On looking about 
I saw General de Trobriand riding toward me. 1 explained to 
the general as well as I could, how I had left matters at the front, 
and he immediately ordered forward Kirwin's dismounted cavalry, 
which was temporarily under his command, to the support of the 
124th and the Sharpshooters. The general also directed me to 
the hospital which had been established for the wounded of the 
division, at a little house in the edge of the woods about an eighth 
of a mile farther to the rear. At this house I found our assistant 
surgeon, Dr. Montfort, who examined and dressed my wound ; 



IN FRONT OF PETERSBURG 385 

and I felt very much relieved when he informed me it would 
not prove serious, as the ball had evidently gone around instead 
of through me. On my asking a second time, "Doctor, are you 
sure it did not go straight through," he replied laughingly, 
" quite sure of that, for if it had, it would have made a hole 
through your heart." 

Before reaching the hospital I had lost considerable blood and 
was consequently quite weak ; and after resting at the house a 
short time made my way out to our ambulances, which stood in 
a row close by, and lay down in the first one I came to. In a 
few moments one of the hospital attendants came and informed me 
that Major Murray had been brought back, wounded in the leg. 

Presently a rain storm set in, and it soon became very dark. 
Meantime the heavier noises of battle gradually died away and 
I concluded that the Unionists had been successful, or else the 
ambulances would have been sent to the rear, and rising to a 
sitting posture began looking through the gloom at the horses 
which were hitched to the ambulance I was in. I was wondering 
what color they were, when all of a sudden three or four cannon 
balls, which seemed to come right out of the little house where 
the doctors were, went thundering past ; and one of them carried 
away the upper part of the head of one of the horses I was looking 
sit, and as the poor brute fell his mate made a desperate plunge, 
but did no harm to the ambulance, for he was securely tied to 
a tree, beside being held fast by the weight of the dead horse. 

We were in direct range of a Confederate battery, which 
was firing right through the house referred to, and all the other 
ambulances were hurried out of the way When it was too 
late to make a change I became convinced that I had taken the 
wrong conveyance and forthwith crawled out at the rear end. 
Fortunately just as I alighted a shell burst above my head 
lighting up a space of a hundred feet or more all about where 
I was standing, and I saw my hostler, George Hawley, leading 
past my spirited mare and Adjutant Van Houten's docile horse. 
Calling Hawley to me, I with his assistance mounted the ad- 
jutant's beast (for it was not a favorable opportunity and beside 



3S6 HISTORY OF THE 124TH NEW YORK VOLUNTEERS. 

I had no especial desire to make any display just then) and walked 
him into the woods off toward what I supposed to be the Union 
rear. We were soon out of range of shot and shell. The farther 
we went the harder it rained and the darker grew the night. 
Every few moments we would pass or be passed by a little band 
of men who, like om\selves, were wandering they knew not where. 
The woods seemed to grow more and more dense, and it soon 
became so very dark that I could not tell one object from another. 
Hawley tried hard to keep with me, but I presently missed him. 
He had followed some passing horsemen and was out of hearing. 
A little later a considerable body of mounted men came along, 
but I did not like the sound of their voices and moved out of their 
way. It turned out afterward that these woods were filled with 
the wounded men and stragglers of both armies. A little farther 
on I heard another body of horsemen approaching, and on listen- 
ing attentively recognized the voice of Captain Benedict. 

The captain, as has been stated, was not able to walk and 
when at four p. m. I received orders to advance through the woods 
and, take up a position across the road on the right of the picket 
line, I ordered him to remain in the rear; for I felt that we were 
going where a mounted man would be of little use except as a 
target to be shot at. 

The captain was soon at my side, and by talking continually 
we managed to keep together. The rest of the party were stran- 
gers, and for aught we knew half of them were Confederates. 
But fighting was no part of our business just then, and no impu- 
dent questions were asked. Presently we saw a bright light 
shining through the woods just ahead of us, and the next moment 
found ourselves on a narrow road, and discovered that the light 
came from a candle in the window of a house close by 

In the door of this house there stood a she devil, which we 
took to be a badly frightened old lady. I asked her w 7 hat road we 
were on. In reply she answered that it led to the Yellow Tav- 
ern. Now the Yellow Tavern was just inside the Union line of 
earthworks, and was the very point we were desirous of striking. 
Thanking her for the information we moved on ? but before we 



IN FRONT OF PETERSBURG 387 

were a hundred yards from the house, there came from a dozen 

voices just ahead of us, the Southern shout of " Halt ! halt ! 

You Yankee sons " accompanied by a most familiar click- 
ing sound, which spread to right and left along our front, and the 
next moment bullets began to whistle among us, and several of 
our number were wounded ; whereupon there went up shouts of 
" I surrender, I surrender," from a dozen throats. The others 
wheeled about, put spurs to their horses and hurried back through 
the woods out of ran see. 

I remember very distinctly, that for half an hour before we 
reached this house I was so thoroughly exhausted that T had 
half a mind to dismount and lie down in the woods, and I 
think I would have done so only that I was afraid of being run 
over by some wandering horseman ; but at the sound of that 
ungentlemanly order to surrender, my strength was suddenly 
revived, and I poked my spurs in the ribs of the horse I was 
riding with such force that he started back with a bound that 
caused my hat to fly off — and I did not stop to pick it up. It 
was a new regulation hat of the latest style and had a gilt cord 
about it, so large that I have no doubt the Confederate who found 
it the next morning, supposed he was in possession of the head 
covering of some Yankee drum major or bran new general of 
cavalry 

Those of our party who had escaped capture were scattered 
through the woods. The rain continued to fall in torrents, and for 
two or three hours I wandered about through the darkness not 
knowing which way to go, and finally saw ahead of me another 
light. I had become somewhat suspicious of that sort of thing, 
and instead of riding up to it, brought my horse to a stand, and 
sat there watching and listening. Presently I heard voices and 
soon another party of horsemen rode past, going toward the light ; 
but they too soon reined up, and began discussing the situation. 
I was soon satisfied the}' were Unionists and rode forward and 
joined them. I could now see the reflection of several fires in- 
stead of one, and the general opinion was that a cavalry picket 
line ran through the woods just ahead of us ; but whether it was 



388 HISTORY OF THE 124TH NEW YORK VOLUNTEERS. 

composed of Confederates or Unionists was a question which 
could be answered only after a closer examination. Some one 
suggested that one of our number dismount and reconnoitre, but 
while all agreed to the proposition, several niinutes elapsed before 
any one volunteered to attempt the hazardous undertaking ; then 
a man whose horse was standing beside mine, dismounted and 
handing me his reins said, " I am a non-combatant, and if cap- 
tured will perhaps meet with better usage than would be ex- 
tended to any one of you. If the}' are Confederates and I am 
taken I will shout come on, otherwise I will come back to you." 
He then crept cautiously forward through the brush. It seemed 
that he was gone a very long time but we finally heard a rattling 
in the brush again, and he returned with the assurance that the 
lights we saw were the fires of Union stragglers, who were boiling 
coffee along a highway. 

As soon as I reached this road the excitement which had 
buoyed me up during the night suddenly deserted me, and I felt 
weaker than ever. I had not eaten a mouthful in nearly twenty- 
four hours, and besides the blood had been steadily oozing from 
my wound all night. 

After riding down the road a short distance I came to the 
steam saw-mill which we had passed the day before on our way 
out. Little fires with squads of men gathered around them were 
burning all about this mill, and I determined to dismount there 
and rest. Riding up to a man who stood by the side of the road 
next the mill I asked him to assist me from the saddle, for I was 
fearful of falling if I attempted it unaided. Without a word he 
stepped readily up and putting his hands on his hips braced him- 
self so that I might lean on his shoulders. As I reached the 
ground I looked up in his face, and to my surprise recognized 
Chaplain Harry Hopkins. 

Chaplain Hopkins was a particular friend of Chaplain Joe 
Twitchell's, and resembled him in kindness of heart and readiness 
to render assistance to those needing it. He seemed greatly 
pleased that I had fallen into his hands and did all he possibly 
could for my comfort. His first act was to dress my wound, and 



IN FRONT OF PETERSBURG 389 

for want of more suitable material or because he thought it the 
most suitable, he folded and placed next the bullet holes, a fine 
silk handkerchief. Then with his own hands he prepared and 
broiled for me a choice piece of steak, which he had a short time 
before received as his share of a Confederate bullock captured and 
slaughtered near the mill. With this broiled beef he set before 
me the contents of his haversack. I was very hungry and I yet 
remember that meal as one of the most appreciated of my life. 

After the meal was over he prepared a sort of bed for me, in 
the sawdust, and I lay down and watched our ambulances and 
army wagons coming in and passing along the road, which was 
lighted up by the fires I have mentioned. At length small bodies 
of infantry began to pass and then three or four light batteries 
came thundering in with their horses on a lively trot ; and after 
the batteries came several squadrons of cavalry By this time 
I became thoroughly satisfied as to what was transpiring, and con- 
cluded that to go to sleep there would be to wake up in the 
hands of the enemy- 

The troops I had seen passing were the infantry and cavalry 
pickets, which indicated that the main body had already fallen 
back. I soon explained to the chaplain what I thought of the 
situation, after which he assisted me to mount, and I started for 
our old camp. It was a most tedious ride and I was obliged to 
dismount and rest several times, but at half past four p. m., I 
reached our division hospitals in rear of the works from which 
we had been withdrawn on the 24th. Two hours later the regi- 
ment moved past and several members of it came in to see me. 

Captain Benedict who I had supposed was wounded and cap- 
tured when we ran into the enemy's line, had turned up all right 
and rejoined the regiment. Lieutenants Carmick, Holbert and 
Br;idley had been wounded, and our brave representative of 
" Old Erin," Captain James Finnigan, had been killed. 

Major Murray had not been seen or heard from and all were 
satisfied that he had again fallen into the hands of the enemy, 
and this opinion was subsequently confirmed. He never returned 
to duty with the regiment. Fortunately the rank and file had 



not suffered in the same ratio as the officers, for when the regi- 
ment passed the hospital it was but twenty-five muskets short of 
the number it started out with, and it was expected that several 
of the absent men would answer at roll call the next morning. 

On the morning of the 29th I had an opportunity to question 
our officers regarding the doings of the regiment after I was 
wounded. The charge General de Trobriand had ordered was 
not made, and no one seemed to know that such a thing had been 
contemplated, and one of the number suggested that perhaps 
after all it was a good thing for the regiment that I had been dis- 
abled. He thought we might possibly have taken the guns, but 
that it could have been done only at a fearful cost and, he added 
as if to qualify his first conclusion, " you would in all probability 
have been killed instead of wounded." 

The efforts of the enemy to force a passage down the road 
entrusted to the 124th did not, I was informed, cease with the 
failure of the charge they attempted to make just before I was 
wounded. Half an hour later their battle line a sain emerged 
from the woods and with a charging shout started across the open 
field. The sharpshooters had meantime taken position on the 
right of the 124th, prolonging the line in that direction. But 
just at the critical moment Kirwin's powerful regiment, armed 
with repeating rifles from which they claimed sixteen cartridges 
could be fired in less than a minute, reached the scene of action, 
and rushing forward — as the sharpshooters had done on their 
arrival — filled the gaps in the loose battle line already engaged ; 
and adding their fire to that of my brave boys, speedily sent the 
charging Confederates to the right about, and tumbled them right 
and left, as with rapid strides they hastened back into the 
woods. 

After that the enemy did not again appear in force, but an 
occasional bullet went whistling past, and every few moments a 
shell or two fired from his battery, which had evidently been 
withdrawn to a respectable distance, tore its way through the 
limbs over their heads. 

Kirwin's regiment was withdrawn just before dark but the 



IN FRONT OF PETERSBURG 



391 



124th remained where I left it until nearly ten p. m., when it was 
marched rapidly back to the Vaughan road, where they bivou- 
acked until noon the next day, when the march was resumed ; 
and at six p. m. they were busy pitching their tents in the camp 
they had been withdrawn from on the 24th. 

LIST OF KILLED, AXD WOUNDED OF 124TH, IN FRONT OF 
PETERSBURG FROM AUGUST 20 TO OCTOBER 22, 1864. 

Aug. 20 Private James Daniels, Co. C Wounded. 

Sept. 10 Private George G. King, " C Killed. 

" 12 " Joseph Pratt, "' B Wounded. 

" 14 Corp. Chester J u.dson, " C. Killed. 

" 15 Private Martin V Campbell, " B.. .... 

Oct. 9 Private Grant B. Benjamin, " G 

" 10 " B. M. Little, " B Wounded. 

" 20 " Theodore Smith, " A. ... 

" 22 Lieut. Jonathan Biedsall, "A Killed. 



CASUALTIES OF 124TH AT BATTLE OF BOYDTON ROAD, 

OCTOBER 27, 1SG4. 

Lieut. Colonel C. H. Weygant,. Wounded. 

Major Henry S. Murray, Wounded and Captured. 

Capt. James Finnigan, Co. C. .. .. Killed. 

Lieut. E. J. Carmick, Co. F Wounded. 

Ebenezer Holbert, " D.. 

" Thomas W Bradley, " B. 

Sergt. Clark B. Gallation. Co. H. . Wounded and Captured. 

Private Francis Quinn, " H. 

'• James Smith, " B. 

Corp. David U. Quick, " K Wounded. 

Private Thomas Griffith, " B 

" Peter Herman, " C 

" Henry Drilling, " C 

" Charles Timerson, " H 

Walter D. Boyce, "I 

" Henry 11. Broadhead, " F Killed. 

" Robert H. Folley, " C 

" William H. Dougherty, " E Captured. 

" William Milliken, " I 

JeduthanMillspaugh, " I. 



392 HISTORY OF THE 124TH NEW YORK VOLUNTEERS. 



CHAPTER XX. 

Reinforced, — Weldon Raid, — In Winter Quarters. 

ON the 30th day of October I received a furlough and started 
for the North. On reaching my home at Newburgh I 
found awaiting me the following letter from Captain Benedict, 
the senior officer with the regiment. 

" 124th N. Y. V., Oct. 30, 1864. 

" My Dear Colonel : — 

In great haste I send yon a few lines. I have just returned from dis- 
interring the body of Captain Finnigan. An orderly rode in camp with 
me bringing an order to march at dark. Capt. Malone with his company, 
— 87 men and Lient. King — arrived last night. They have been put in 
Companies K. and E., and a few of them in other companies where they 
have relatives. Where we are going to no one knows — whether into the 
front line, to some other camp, to march or fight is all surmise." 

" Later — We are ordered into the front lines to-night and as your bay 
mare may not be safe from mortar shells I will send her to Post who says 
he will see that she is properly cared for, and take all the blame should 
anything happen her before you return. Travis sends regards. Let me 
hear from you soon and often. 

Javies W Benedict." 

Two days later I received the following letter from Captain 
Travis, the next officer in rank to Captain Benedict : 

" 124th N. Y. V., Nov. 3, 1864. 

" Dear Colonel — I thought I would write a few lines to let you know 
that I am yet in the land of the living,- and that we at present occupy the 
grounds laid out by you for our new camp. Everything is running as 
smoothly as possible but we all wish for your return. As for the new 
company, they have arrived. We gave Malone a full company ; the rest 
were sent to Company E., except six. Four of these went to C. and the 
other two to F. The old regiment looks big again. We have sent for 
arms and expect them here to-morrow. Captain Finnigan's body has been 



REINFORCED 393 

sent home. If any of his friends speak to you in regard to refunding the 
money it cost us, it is $133, and you are authorized to receive it for us. 
Do not mention it to them unless they speak first about it to you. Post 
has taken charge of your bay mare but I have kept your little brown for 
my own use. If I attempt to ride her they will have to start very soon. 
There is a rumor that Hancock leaves the corps, and that Gibbons takes 
command. Come back as soon as you can. 

From your friend, 

Harry Travis." 

Hancock did leave the corps about that date because of physi- 
cal difficulties arising from wounds received in battle, but Major- 
General Humphreys, instead of Gibbon, took his place. 

My wound did not entirely heal for several months, but its 
worst effects wore away quite rapidly and on the 22d of Novem- 
ber I was with the regiment again. During my absence there 
had arrived, in addition to Captain Malone's men, a considerable 
number of recruits. 

I was much pleased with the general appearance of these new 
men ; and was most agreeably surprised when, on taking the regi- 
ment out on battalion drill, I failed to discover a half dozen 
" awkward recruits " in the entire number. I afterward learned 
that not a few of them had been in the service three years before 
they joined the 124th, and that nearly every one of them had been 
members of regiments whose terms of service had expired. 
Captain Malone and Lieutenant King showed by their every 
action that they were experienced officers ; and I felt thoroughly 
satisfied that I had nothing to fear when the regiment should 
again be called into action, from these veteran recruits. 

Just before my return to the front I visited our State capital 
and procured from His Honor Governor Seymour, 

A Captain's Commission for Lieutenant Thomas Taft, who was assigned to C. 

E. J. Carmick, " " " F 

" " « Thomas W Bradley, " " " B. 

A First Lieut. " " Orderly Sergt. John C. Wood, " " " A 

"Second " " " " " Woodward T. Ogden, " " " K - 

" ' « « " Sergeant Thomas Hart, " " A. 

" " << « " " David U. Quick, " " " B. 

" « " " " Sergt. Major Thos. G. Mabie, " " " D - 



394 HISTORY OF THE 124TH NEW YORK VOLUNTEERS. 



At nn inspection held on the afternoon of November 25th the 
regiment turned out nineteen officers and three hundred and 
sixty-two enlisted men — a larger number than we had mustered 
for duty at any time since we moved into action on the bloody 
battlefield of Chancellorsville. The following is a list of the 
gains of the regiment subsequent to the opening of our campaign 
under Grant. They had all, with the exception of about twenty, 
joined the regiment after the battle of Boydton Road. 

Capt. Robert A. Malone. 
Lieut. John S. King. . 

Daniel D. Carpenter 

Thomas Derwin. . 

Henry Ladue. . . . .... 

William L. McNitt.... 

Robert Perry 

William H. Retalic. .. 
Lemuel R. Robertson. 

John H. Johnson 

David H. Wheeler.. 

James L. Johnson 

John P. Burkhart 

George Mason 

John Clancy .... 

Thomas Griffith 

James Hamilton. . .... 

John Parker. 

John Raffin. . 

John W. Garrison 

Charles Wannemaker. 

Luke Petitt 

John Ruby 

George Stickney. 
William L. Bonvvell 

Richard Blunt 

William Beteker. .... 

John Dougherty.. 

Michael Brown 

Henry Drilling 

George Dold. 
Lewis Ewalt. 
Peter Herman. . 
William H. Finch.. 

Casper Aisale 

Jacob Beck 

John Seymour 
John A. Travis. . . . 

ErastusDill 

Henry S. Utter.. 
Jeremiah Daily 



Company 


K 


<< 


K 


Company 


A 


<i 


A 


" 


A 


(< 


A 


(c 


A 


a 


A 


a 


A 


ti 


A 


tt 


A 


(( 


A 


tt 


A 


tt 


A 


Company 


B 


" 


B 


. 


B 


" 


B 


t i 


B 


a 


B 


a 


B 


Company C 


(( 


C 


" 


C 


*{ 


C 


" 


C 


< ( 


c 


a 


c 


k 


c 


( < 


c 


u 


c 


It 


c 


ti 


c 


it 


c 


n 


c 


n 


c 


1 1 


c 


Company 


D 


K 


D 


" 


D 


<( 


D 



William Edsall. 


.Company D 


Peter Byrne 


D 




D 


Thomas Collins 


D 




D 


Amos De Long. . 


D 


William A. Trainer 


.. .. " D 


William Munroe 


D 


Johnson Munroe 


D 


Charles Morgan 


D 


John Johnson 


" D 


Michael Welch. 


D 


William Rouke 


D 


Joel H. Brown. 


D 


Thomas G. Holmes 


D 


Albert Bigler. 


D 


John Curray. 


D 




D 


Isaac Keith. 


.... Company E 


Peter Brickey. ... 


" ' E 




E 


Isaiah Booz 


. ... " E 


Furman Furman . 


E 


Charles Centebar 


E 


William Cole 


E 


William M. Dean 


E 


Charles M. Evert 


E 


Peter 0. Favero. 


E 


Edward Kelly 


E 


Andrew Lafontain. 


" E 


John Moor 


E 


Joseph McCullock 


E 


Frederick E. Norton. 


E 


Samuel S. Stockwell... 


.. .. " E 




E 


James Salsbury., 


E 


Joseph Wells 


E 


James E. Winters. 


E 


Amos Winters 


E 


William W. Wright.. . . 


E 


Silas Wade 


B 



REINFORCED. 



395 



Cyrus J. Blackman. . 
John Madden. 

Philetus Lomis 

William Davis 

Harvey Conklin. . . . 

Alva Hough 

James Stack 

Martin Coval 

Edward Earl 

William S. Smith.. . 
Charles E. Brown. . . 
John E. Hurder. 

John Murphy 

Joseph T. Smith. 
John P. Trant. 
Francis Quinn 
Charles Timerson . 
Sylvanus.Lang. . . 
Charles 0. Goodyear.. 
John Anderson.. 
Cornelius Brussie . 
Emanuel Bateman . . 
Allen R. Billings. . . 
George Cannavan. . . 
William Emmons. . . 
Homer Hayes.. 
William McGulphen. 
Franklin Reilly.. 
Thomas Reilly 

Joseph Rose 

John Ryan 

Horace A. Smith... 
Walter D. Boyce. 
William Hatfield. . 
James A.Benton. .. 

David Babcock 

James H. Brush.. 
John E. Beard. . 
James E. Braisted.. 
John Bishop.. 
George W T Brown.. 
William Bennett. . . . 
Harvey Brush. 
Charles Cable.. . 
Josiah Conklin. 
Michael Callahan. 
George Conklin. 

Samuel Call 

Nicholas K. Crotty. 
Abraham J. Cronk. 
Andrew W Conklin.. 
Moses C. Conklin. . . . 
Daniel Conklin. 



Company 


E 


Edward De Hart.. .. 


.Company K 


" 


E 


John De Hart. 


K 


1 1 


E 


William Dolan.. . . 


K 


" 


E 


Solomon Davenport. 


K 


Company 


F 


Seth M. Davey 


" K 


" 


F 


Geo. W. Elliston 


K 


i t 


F 


John Farrell 


K 


" 


F 




K 


Company 


G 


John Flynn. . 


K 


" 


G 


Samuel F. Fredericks. 


K 


Company 


H 


Benjamin W. Halstead. 


K 


(< 


H 


George L. Howard. . 


K 


tt 


H 


James Helms . . 


K 


n 


H 


Joseph Hunt 


K 


" 


H 


Rufus S. Hoyt. 


K 


" 


H- 


Charles Johnson. 


K 


" 


H 


Joseph D. Jackson 


K 


" 


H 




K 


Company 




William H. Lewis. 


K 


t< 




Samuel Lewis.. 


K 


i t 




James Lynn 


K 


1 1 




Philip Lehning. 


" K 


1 1 






K 


.< 




Edward Meyer 


K 


« 






K 


( i 




Henry L. Miller. 


K 


( i 




(George F. Mathews. .. 


K 


.< 




William H. Monell. 


K 


.< 




Jacob J. Nichols. 


K 


.< 




Alexander R. Olds 


K 


" 




George J. O'Reilly . . 


K 


u 




John Petrey 


K 


« 




Joseph P Homer. 


K 


c 1 




Benjamin P Komer. . .. 


K 


» 




Gilbert E. Robbins 


K 


.Company K 


William Reed 


" K 


a 


K 




K 


i' 


K 


George H. Roberson. . . 


K 


u 


K 


David Storms 


K 


« 


K 


Moses Schofield 


K 


i i 


K 


Edward Stafford 


K 


1 1 


K 




K 


a 


K 




K 


i e 


K 


John S. Shaw 


" K 


it 


K 


John Smith 


" K 


a 


K 


William E. Tucker 


K 




K 


John J. Terwilliger. .. . 


K 




K 


William Whalen. 


K 


1 1 


K 


James II. Wood 


" K 


>> 


K 


Henry Wilkinson . 


K 


" 


K 


John Wallace 


" K 


<< 


K 


Peter Winters . 


" K 


t i 


K 


Israel H. Wickham 


K 



896 HISTORY OF THE 124TII NEW YOKK VOLUNTEERS, 

On the afternoon of November 29th the troops of Mott's com- 
mand were instructed to pack up and remain in readiness to move 
at a moment's notice. It was currently rumored that we had 
been ordered to a new camping ground, somewhere in the rear, 
on which we were to erect permanent winter quarters. Just 
after sundown a division of Ninth Corps troops came marching 
up in perfect order, with drums beating, and banners flying, 
ready to relieve us from duty in the trenches and occupy the 
camps we were about to vacate. 

Their arrival was observed by the enemy, who forthwith 
opened a furious cannonade which lasted for an hour or more ; 
during which the gallant Lieutenant-Colonel Stafford of the 86th 
was mortally wounded, and the incoming division had some fifteen 
or twenty men killed or disabled. In the evening our division 
quietly withdrew, moved about a mile to the rear and bivouacked 
for the night. 

At sunrise on the 30th we resumed the march and at the end 
of about six miles reached our flank or rear line of works near 
Poplar Grove church, where de Trobriand's brigade was given 
position and ordered to camp between Forts Cummings and 
Seebert. The weather was now so cold that the men found it 
next to impossible to sleep comfortably on the ground under their 
thin muslin shelters ; but day after day passed without bringing 
us the anxiously looked for permission to erect winter quarters ; 
and the men without orders began putting log walls under their 
tent pieces and erecting log bunks. 

An entry in my journal under date of Nov 5th reads — " I 
am now able to mount my horse without assistance. Before ten 
a. m. and after three p. m. I am usually with the regiment. The 
intervening time I spend at court-martial. Yesterday our court 
tried a poor fellow for his life and virtually pronounced the death 
sentence against him in less than forty minutes. I was the pre- 
siding officer, and the only member of the court who voted a less 
sentence than that fatal one to which I have several times of late 
affixed my signature, beginning with, — " That he be shot to death." 
" We are encamped in the rear line of works near the Southal 



REINFORCED. 397 

house, and not far from Reams Station. For-the first time in many 
months our camp is out of sight of the enemy and for nearly a 
week I have not heard the sound of a passing shell, nor the whistle 
of a bullet. We are on high ground and will I hope soon receive 
orders to erect permanent winter quarters here. A statement just 
received from my ordnance clerk C. C. Lutes, shows that from the 
14th of October to the 29th of November the regiment expended 
122,870 rounds of ammunition. A hundred thousand rounds of 
this were expended on the picket line during the month of No- 
vember. Our picket detail for that period did not average daily 
over eighty men. Making a liberal deduction for waste, each 
picket, it would seem, expended full forty rounds daily. The 
only casualties reported by reason of shell or bullets during the 
month were "the wounding of Private John Anderson of I, and 
William Reid of K. Now the enemy posted opposite the line 
picketed by the 124th during this period must have expended 
almost as much ammunition as our men. If put to my oath and 
asked the question ' How many rounds of this vast amount of 
ammunition do' you think was actually fired at a human being 
by your men or by the enemy opposite them ? ' I should unhesi- 
tatingly answer — ' Not one.' " 

At 11.30 p. m. on the 6th of November I was awakened to 
read a circular order which contained the following, " You will 
have your command in readiness to move at daybreak with four 
days' rations and sixty rounds of ammunition on the person." 
An hour later there came another order directing the various 
regiments of our brigade to assemble, without further notice, in 
front of General de Trobriand's headquarters at four o'clock a. m. 

We moved out of camp a quarter of an hour ahead of the time 
designated and soon reached and stacked arms in front of the 
General's quarters. Three regiments had preceded us and we 
were soon joined by the others. The General appeared at four 
o'clock precisely dressed in his fighting suit, and followed by 
his staff and an unusually large number of orderlies ; and with- 
out halting or even drawing his sword— an omission very unusual 
with him— shouted the one word " Forward " and led us off toward 



398 HISTOEY OF THE 124TH NEW YOKE VOLUNTEERS. 

the left of the Union line. At the end of a march of five miles, 
we reached the Yellow Tavern. Here we halted, and stacking 
arms rested for two hours, during which we were joined by Gen- 
eral Mott with the other brigades of his division. 

In marching to this point we passed by several Fifth Corps 
brigade camps, the log cabins of which were roofless and empty. 
Column's of troops and long trains of army wagons were moving 
hither and thither over the plains about us. A general move- 
ment of no little importance was evidently in progress. My men 
as usual, on such occasions, sat down in groups by the gun stacks 
and began exchanging opinions as to " what was up." Some 
thought a general assault against a weak point in the enemy's 
lines was intended, but others replied that there was altogether 
too much of a fuss for that. 

Presently three or four light batteries, followed by a number 
of ambulances belonging to the cavalry, went clattering past, and 
were driven out the Jerusalem plank road. A little later a 
wounded cavalryman rode in over the same road and reported 
that he had been shot about daylight in a skirmish near the 
Notaway river, and that in riding back he had passed the 
advance division of the Fifth Corps boys, which he found cook- 
ing coffee along the road where they had halted for breakfast, 
full ten miles out. At length our brigade bugler sounded the 
" forward " and the head of our column, like the batteries and 
ambulances referred to, started out the Jerusalem plank road, on 
what has since been named the " Weldon Raid." 

This expedition consisted of the Fifth Corps with Mott's divis- 
ion of the Second, and Gregg's Cavalry division. It was com- 
manded by General Warren, and was sent out from Meade's left 
to destroy the Weldon railroad farther southward, and thus pre- 
vent its use by the enemy in transporting supplies from North 
Carolina nearly up to our lines whence they were wagoned around 
the Union left to Lee's camps. It occupied our time just a week ; 
and a few days after our return to the Petersburg lines Lewis T. 
Shultz, the praying-fighting sergeant of Company G. who had 
recently been dubbed " Regimental Poet,' 1 handed me a neatly 



WELDON RAID. 399 

written and rather lengthy document which proved to be a de- 
tailed account of our recent expedition. It now lies before me 
and I will send it to the printer with the simple statement that 
the scenes described therein were only too true, but that the 
124th took no part in firing the buildings. 

"THE WELDON EAID." 

By L. T. Shultz, 124th X. Y. Vols. 

The day was Seventh, and Twelfth the month, of eighteen sixty-four, 
At early dawn we took our march, as oft we had before ; 
For what or where no one could guess, Grant keeps his tho'ts so well, 
But day by day revealed the plan, and I'll the story tell. 

We took a straight and noted route, the "Jerusalem Plank Boad," 
The Eifth Corps first, then we of course, again must share the load ; 
For our Division you all know well, has done its part or more, 
And here I'll say we're better known as the "famous old Third Corps." 

The first day passed, and twenty miles from Camp we halt to stay, 
And spend the night, securely crossed the river Notaway ; 
But many fell out on our march, and slept beside the road, 
Their feet so sore and shoulders paiued, by soldiei''s heavy load. 

The night was wet, but bright the morn, so on our course we bent, 
A thousand scenes both new and old, to greet us as we went ; 
And here the soldiers' fun began, to plunder rebel farms, 
With sweet potatoes, chickens, lambs and turkeys rilled their arms. 

Our column on with grandest march, thro' fields and wood made way, 
Nor rebel force could once impede the progress of that day ; 
G-regg's chargers took our front and flanks, and made the Rebels fly, 
While our host their columns pressed, to help them by and by. 

The "Sussex Court House" soon we passed, and many dwellings too, 
Yet scarce a white man could be seen, old rebels though a few ; 
But there were women white and black, and children by the score ; 
The first part scorned, the second smiled, to see our Flag once more. 

Just here it was some Yankee Boys, of whiskey got a smell, 

They quickly found its whereabouts, and helped themselves full well ; 

Themselves they rilled — their canteens too, and drank with chums their 

health, 
Unconscious, then laid down and slept, till waked by Rebel stealth. 



400 HISTORY OF THE 124TH NEW YOEK VOLUNTEERS. 

But common were the scenes that day, presented to our sight, 
At eve we struck the "Weldon Road,'' and bivouacked for night ; 
Ten thousand fires with rails were made, the wind so cold and strong, 
" Kings Corn "and *'' Cotton," Stations, Tanks and Bridges blazed along. 

And then the sound of cheering hosts and thrilling iron stroke, 
Came up to say the Fifth Corps Boys to active scenes had woke ; 
Five miles of track that eve they spoiled, then rested on the ground, 
Nor could we sleep, so chill the night, till morning came around. 

With beef supplied and breakfast o'er, at day we joined the fun, 
So strong our force, and long our line, the track was overrun ; 
With mighty lifts and lusty cheers, we turned it upside down, 
Then burnt the ties and bent the rails, nor feared the Eebels frown. 

Three times the whole length changed along, each time its length destroyed. 
With Mott's command beyond ' Three Creek,' most heartily employed ; 
And this the last and farthest work the Infantry should do, 
At midnight hour we countermarched, and bid the flames be true. 

A stormy freezing night we passed, mid icy foliage damp, 

The question was which way we'd go, towards Weldon or to camp ; 

But Warren sent his orders out, as near as I could learn, 

To say that all required was done, and now we should return. 

Hurrah for camp, our home is this, but ! who can endure, 
The march so long, the " mud " so deep, and little rest besnre ; 
But Rebel force was gathering strong and fighting at our backs, 
So every man, through thick and thin, made wide and hasty tracks. 

Half rations drawn and ate at morn, was all the fare that day, 
Except the produce and the stock " smouched on " upon the way : 
And thus it was another day, the soldiers did complain, 
Till coming near the " Notaway," we met a " supply train." 

Twas Sunday now, and called at home, the "best day of the seven," 

But here it only bears the name, bereft of all its Heaven ; 

And horrid sights this day we met, too painful to relate, 

But Truth must now defend its cause, and show the Rebel's hate. 

Beyond the Sussex Court House 'twas, as on our way returning, 
We found some Union Soldiers dead, we thus our foes are learning; 
Their ghastly look and naked form was shocking to behold, 
While fearful wounds of knife and ball the Rebel's feelin g told. 



WELDON RAID. 401 

The murderers soon were found to be the dwellers by the way, 

Who though exempt from Eebcl drafts, guerrillas were that day ; 

Such is the foe we have to fight, wherever we are sent, 

Shame on the man who'd " treat for peace," with such till they repent. 

At one large house, a Sergeant slain, was found beneath the floor, 
The murderers quickly took the hint, and hid inside the door ; 
The easiest way to find them out was just to burn the dwelling, 
Then soon they showed their guilty heads, the hre some guns exploding. 

These sights, their brother soldier's blood, with vengeance caused to boil, 
Such fiendish acts, on Rebel heads, they swore should now recoil ; 
True — every house both large and small was thrown in wild disorder, 
As each in turn to ashes went, by G-en. Warren's ■• order." 

A constant scene of burning homes, for twenty miles and more, 
Was deemed by those who bore the grief, retaliation sore ; 
But justice says the Union must protect the Sons she loves, 
Nor can we crush this treason out '"by handling it with gloves." 

'Twas hard to hear the mothers plead, with children round them clinging, 
And see the flames devour those homes, where once was joy and singing ; 
Those mansions large with grounds arranged, and rooms to suit their zest, 
Told what a happy group lived there, while in the Union blest. 

But justice stern demands this course, the Union cause to aid, 
And that our foes be taught their crime, example must be made ; 
Our fault 'tis not, but Rebels great, responsible must be, 
For all the sufferings, theirs and ours, and for their slaves set free. 

One act I saw with deep regret, performed by soldier's hand. 
The burning of a House of God ; It was not contraband ; 
Our Colonel ordered out the fire, just as it was beginning, 
But other men by theirs were told, again to set it blazing. 

Thus Sunday went and Monday came, nor ceased the scene of fire, 
Till coming near the Union line, the " order •" did expire ; 
And bleeding feet, while marching bare, on frozen rain and ground. 
Attest the spirit of our men, while making this "grand round." 

'Twas just a week before we left, we moved out on this line, 
And budded houses most complete, to stay the winter time ; 
But on returning near that camp, how did the soldiers scold, 
To find us cheated of our homes, and "left out in the cold." 



402 HISTORY OF THE 124TH NEW YORK VOLUNTEERS. 

And now our place is on the flank, away outside the line, 
We cleared the ground, laid out the streets, and built a camp most fine ; 
So heie on "guard, fatigue and picket,'" we'll await the spring campaign, 
Then with three hundred thousand more, the Rebels fight again. 

About this raid I wish to say, we had a leader new, 
So long by glorious Hancock led, (like him there are but few,) 
His splendid form and speaking look, we never shall forget, 
Nor many scenes of brilliant fame, where he and we have met. 

About it too I wish to say, brave Warren did command, 
And with what wisdom and success, is known through all the land ; 
Nor can I tell who most to praise, for officers and men, 
Excepting those who always "beat," did well their duty then. 

Now while we fight, let's hope and trust in God, who helps the right, 
Nor think our prayers with swearing mix'd can claim His favor's might, 
Our cause is just, our War is right, the Union to restore, 
Nor will it cease till waves our flag through all the land once more. 

My story's told, rejoice our Land, for Lincoln re-elected, 
Our Country and our President, divinely be protected ; 
Our Army and our Navy, too, to both be glory paid, 
Successful may they ever be, as was the Well-Done-Eaid. 

The total casualties reported by the 124th during the Weldon 
Raid were the wounding of John F. Meyers of F. and the loss 
of Enos Jenkins of Co. A, who while on duty at brigade head- 
quarters as a mounted order!)', was captured by guerrillas one 
dark night within twenty rods of General de Trobriand's head- 
quarters. 

The new camping ground on which we at last received orders 
to erect winter quarters was located about forty rods in advance 
of the Union line of breastworks, and almost directly in front of 
the camp we had vacated on the 7th. There was an extensive 
pine woods near at hand, and at the end of a week we settled 
down for the winter in as comfortable and fine looking log cabins 
as were to be found in any camp in the corps. 

On our return from the Weldon Raid, I received through 
brigade headquarters, a small package accompanied by several 
official documents, the most important of which read as follows : 



IN WINTER QUAETEES. 403 

War Department, Adjutant-General's Office, Washington, Nov 28, 1864. 

Sir :— Herewith T enclose the medal of honor, which has been 
awarded yon by the Secretary of War, under the Resolution of Congress, 
approved July 12, 1SG2, '' To provide for the presentation of ' Medals of 
Honor ' to the enlisted men of the army and volunteer forces who have 
distinguished or may distinguish themselves in battle during the present 
rebellion. 

Please acknowledge the receipt of it. 

Very respectfully your obedient servant, 

E. D. Towxsexd, Assistant Adjutant- General. 
To Private Archibald Freeman, Company E. 124th is T . Y. Vols. 

These medals of honor were never presented for any less meri- 
torious action than the capture of a Confederate battle flag, 
and with this one, which was the first I had ever seen, there 
came a special order designating the loth as the day on which it 
should be formally presented in presence of the entire brigade. 
The presentation was duly made and Sergeant Archibald Free- 
man became for the time being the envied hero of de Trobriand's 
command. 

About Christmas, we received from the " Ladies of Orange " 
a case containing upwards of five hundred sleeping caps, which 
were greatly appreciated by all, not only for the the reason that 
they added to our comfort, but because they assured us that our 
sacrifices and sufferings for our country were appreciated, and 
that we were yet kindly remembered by friends from whom man}' 
of us had been long separated. Accompaning this case of sleep- 
ing caps there came from a warm friend of the regiment this 
note : 

Goshen, Deo. 19, 1864. 

Colonel Weygant — Dear Sir : — 

I have this day packed and shipped to you per express, hy order of the 
ladies, one box containing five hundred and thirty sleeping caps for your 
regiment. While the ladies of the different towns have worked with a 
hearty good will, you may attribute a large share of your indebtedness to 
Mrs. Dr. Jane, of Florida, who has evidently been the moving power. 

Yours, etc., 

F. H. Reevs. 



404 HISTORY OF THE 124TH NEW YORK VOLUNTEERS. 

The month of January, 1865, was devoted by officers and men 
in every branch of the service to the making of most thorough 
preparations for an aggressive spring campaign. The building of 
earthworks and digging of trenches, so far as our corps was con- 
cerned, almost entirely ceased. The usual picket duty could not 
of course be discontinued, but the opposing lines, in front of 
where our brigade was lying, were half a mile or more apart, and 
the dread sounds of enemies' bullets were no longer heard in our 
camps. Drilling by squad, company, battalion, and brigade was 
resumed, and inspections and reviews were of frequent occurrence. 
Convalescents returned to duty almost daify- Early in the 
month, his honor Governor Fenton, on recommendation of our 
brigade division and corps commanders, issued a Colonel's com- 
mission, to Lieutenant-Colonel C. H. Weygant, a Lieutenant- 
Colonel's commission to Major H. S. Murray, and a Major's com- 
mission to Captain James W Benedict. 

But Murray unfortunately remained a prisoner of war; and 
Benedict, though always thereafter our acting Lieutenant-Colonel, 
preferred to serve out his time and return to his home if his life 
were spared, captain of what might be left of the gallant com- 
pany he had brought with him to the field. 

On or about the last day of January Adjutant Van Houten 
resigned and I appointed Lieutenant John S. King of Company 
K. acting adjutant in his stead. 

On the 4th day of February we received notice to prepare 
for a march. Another demonstration against the enemy's right 
had been ordered, and the next morning the Fifth and Second 
Corps, preceded by Gregg's division of cavalry, pushed out to 
Ream's Station, and thence to Dinwiddie C. II. , the Fifth Corps 
being directed to turn the rebel right while the Second assailed 
in front. 

At half past four o'clock a. m. on the 5th the camp of the 
124th had lost its accustomed tidy and comfortable appearance. 
The muslin shelters had been stripped from the roof-poles and 
once more strapped fast to the well filled knapsacks of their own- 
ers. Cartridge boxes containing forty rounds of fresh ammuni- 



IN WINTER QUARTERS. 405 

tion were hanging from the gun stacks, while haversacks filled 
with hard bread, salt pork, sugar and coffee, were piled about 
them ; and surplus clothing, old shoes and odds and ends of all 
kinds, that could not be carried on the person, were scattered in 
profusion over the bunks and floors of the roofless log cabins, in 
which little groups of men were gathered about smoking and 
smouldering fires, waiting for the sound of the assembly - 

At seven a. m. our brigade column was formed, and after 
marching to the left about two miles, we were halted in rear of 
Mead's most advanced infantry picket posts. But this halt, we 
soon learned, was only for the purpose of forming battle line 
and deploying a regiment as skirmishers. As soon as this change 
in our formation was completed we moved forward again, passing 
over the Union picket line toward that of the enemy, which was 
soon reached, and speedily driven back by our skirmishers, a mile 
or more, to a small stream called Hatcher's Run. On the further 
side of this stream about a hundred Confederates rallied behind 
a light line of works and brought our skirmishers to a stand ; 
whereupon a regiment from the left of De Trobriand's line (the 
124th was on the right) was hurried forward to assist the skir- 
mishers who, as soon as reinforced, charged across the stream, 
carried the works, and took about twenty prisoners. 

The brigade forded the run in battle line, and pushed on about 
three-quarters of a mile, when our skirmishers were again brought 
to a halt by a volley from troops posted behind the enemy's 
main line of works. Here General de Trobriand took up a strong 
position and set his men to building a corresponding line. While 
engaged with picks and shovels, we heard the thunder of battle 
away off to our left. 

Our brigade worked unmolested all day ; and at night we 
lay down to rest behind most formidable earthworks. The re- 
maining brigades of Mott's division had moved up on our left, and 
spent the day, as our brigade had done, covering their front. 
Just about dark, the elated foe having forced back Warren's 
command, hurled a heavy column against the left of Mott's 
intrenched line, striking that part of it held by McAllister's 



406 HISTORY OF THE 12 4TH NEW YORK VOLUNTEERS. 

Jersey brigade ; but the brave Jerseymen were prepared to 
receive, and speedily repelled their assault, inflicting heavy loss 
on the assailants. 

About three a. m. on the 6th our brigade was relieved by a 
portion of the Fifth Corps, after which we moved to the left about 
half a mile and massed in a ravine in rear of McAllister's line. 
The sky had clouded during the night and shortly after we reached 
this ravine a cold rain storm set in. The men were allowed to 
build small fires, but the slight benefit derived from the heat they 
sent out was more than counterbalanced by the disagreeable effects 
of the strong smoke which almost blinded us. My own eyes 
were soon so swollen that I could not shut them. Very few of 
the men had rubber blankets and were consequently wet to the 
skin, and as they groped their way about, their teeth chattered 
so that they could not speak distinctly It was a day through- 
out which we all suffered terribly, but nobody grumbled, for there 
occasionally came to us from our left a sound which told very 
plainly that others were suffering even more than we. That night 
we learned that the Fifth Corps and cavalry had been attacked 
in flank and suffered a loss of over two thousand men, but that 
Hancock's command had been able to hold every foot of ground 
it had taken, repulsing several determined assaults ; and that the 
Union line had been permanently extended across Hatcher's Run. 

On the morning of the 9th our brigade moved about a mile 
to the right and w T as assigned a position in this new line. We 
spent the day erecting heavy breastworks and felling the trees 
and shrubs in our front for a distance of at least six hundred 
yards. When this was accomplished the men went to work with 
a will clearing grounds for a camp behind the works, and prepar- 
ing for the erection of new log cabins. On the morning of the 
11th an order was received forbidding the erection of winter 
quarters and directing the pitching of muslin shelters on the 
ground. For a week my men had suffered terribly from cold 
and exposure without 'a word of complaint, but this order was 
received with frowns and in- some instances blasphemous grum- 
blings. But fortunately, on the morning of the 12th it was 



IN WINTER QUARTERS. 



407 



rescinded, and at the end of a week we were all comfortably 
housed again. 

GAINS. 

About the first of March the 1st Regiment of U S. Sharp- 
shooters was disbanded, because of the expiration of the term of 
a large number who had failed to re-enlist. The recruits to- 
gether with those who had re-enlisted, were sent to such regiments 
as they individually chose to select. Twenty-one of these came 
to the 124th and were assigned, at their especial request, to 
Company H., which was then and ever after commanded by Cap- 
tain Theodore M. Roberson, one of the bravest young officers in 
the regiment. About the same time several recruits from New- 
York joined us. The following is a list of all their names. 



Lieut. Sylvestor Lawson.. .Company H 

Corp. Marvin Hilebrant " H 

Corp. Charles T. Thompson. " H 

Corp. Isaac Smith " H 

Corp. Martin Nichols. " H 

Andrew Westervelt " H 

Charles C. Hicks " H 

John Fisk " H 

Orrin E. Dotey " H 

Charles H. Berner " H 

Henry C. Conklin " H 

Edward F. Dunn " H 

Henry C. Ecker.. .. .. " H 

Aaron Fuller " H 



Henry Jubin 

Byron J. Pullman . . 
Cornelius Pullman. 
Douglass Pullman. . 

Philip Servis 

Alonzo Voorhees. 
Charles Webster. 
James Couhig. . . . 
Edward Brownson. 

Neal Smith 

Joseph Shaw. 

George Lock 

William Bowery. 



Company 


H 


k 


H 


a 


H 


« 


H 


tt 


H 


it 


H 


it 


H 


Company 


C 


( t 


C 


It 


G 


It 


G 


" 


G 


tt 


K 



LOSSES. 



From the 1st of May, 1864, to the 25th of March, 1865, our 
permanent losses in addition to those by death on the battle-field, 
which have already been given, were as follows : 



BY DISCHARGE. 



Colonel Francis M. Cummins. 

Captain Charles B. Wood. 

Captain William E. Mapes. 

Captain Ira S. Bush. 

Adjutant William B. Van Houten. 

Lieutenant John VV Houston. 

Lieutenant Lewis M. Wisner. 

Ord. Sergt. Joshua V. Cole, Company G 

Martin Everett •' B 

Mathias T, Holbert " B 



I John H. Blair.. 
Charles C. Knapp. . . 

William Ronk 

Edward Glenn. 
Ransom Wilcox. 
William H. Dawson 
Francis Quinn. ._ 

Patrick Keane 

John Studor .... 
Sylvanus Grier. , 



.Company C 
C 
D 
E 
F 
H 
H 
I 
K 



408 HISTORY OF THE 124TH NEW YORK VOLUNTEERS. 



BY DEATH IN HOSPITALS. 



Lieut. Chas. T. Crissey, 
Ord. Sergt. W W Parsons, 
Sergt. Watson W. Ritch, 
Sergt. Sanford T. Estabrook, 
Sergt. Isaac Decker, 
Sergt. A. T. Vanderlyn, 
Corp. John C. Vermilye, 
Corp. A. W. Lamereaux, 
Daniel Ackerman, 
George Mason, 
John W. Casey, 
Matthew Crowley, 
Daniel Babcock, 
William Slauson, 
Chas. P. F. Fisher, 
Frederick Lamereaux, 
George Dall, 
Henry Drilling, 
Michael McMorris, 
Jeremiah Dolson, 
John S. Grey, 

BY TRANSF 
Sergt. Charles H. Hull. 
Corp. Noah Kimbark.. 

Edward Rice 

James Gavin 

Michael Mooney. 

John W Stanton. .... 

Wesley Storms 

James Lewis. 

Peter P Hazen 

Cornelius H. Holbert 

Daniel Stephens.. 

Gideon H. Pelton 

Daniel P Dugan. 
George W Decker.. 



A 


Fever. 


K 


Wounds. 


K 


tt 


G 


1 1 


G 


" 


I 


" 


K 


It 


E 


" 


A 


" 


A 


Fever. 


B 


Diarrhea. 


B 


Wounds. 


B 


n 


B 


Diarrhea. 


C In prison. 


C 


Fever. 


C 


" 


C 


Wounds. 


D 


" 


D 


" 


D 


Fever. 


ER 


TO VET 


Company F 




H 




A 




B 




B 




B 




B 




B 




C 




D 




I) 




D 




D 

T1 



James Ryerson, 
Joel H. Brown, 
John A. Travis, 
Thomas P Powell, 
Horace Wheeler, 
Ferman Ferman, 
Martin Covall, 
Garret H. Bennett, 
Nathan W. Parker, 
Isaac W. Parker, 
James Crist, 
William S. M. Hatch, 
Lyman Fairchild, 
Edward Hunter, 
Charles Timerson, 
Giles Curran, 
Henry Losey, 
Anthony Price, 
John Wallace, 
James H. Brush, 



Garrett Decker. 
Simeon Wheat. 
James N. Hazen. 
Jeremiah Cole.. 

Gilbert Peet 

Daniel Smith 

Daniel S. White. .. 
Theron Bodine. . . 
William Dawson. 
Grandison Judson.. 

John Joyce 

George D. Scott. . . 
Robert Mc Cartney. 



BY DISMISSAL. 
Surgeon John H. Thompson.* 

BY TRANSFER FOR PROMOTION. 



D H't dis. 
D Diarrhea. 
D 

S. Pox. 

Fever. 



Fever. 
Wounds. 



D 

E 

E 

F 

G 

G 

G In prison, 

H 

H 

H Wounds. 

H 

H Fever. 

I Wounds. 

I In prison 

K Diarrhea. 

K Fever. 

K Fever. 



.Company D 
" " E 

F 
G 
G 
G 
H 
H 
H 
1 
I 
K 



William H. Dill, of D. made Lieutenant of 
Colored Troops. 



Norman A. Sly, of D. made Lieutenant in 
152d N. Y. Vols. 



BY DESERTION. 



Joseph Gordon 

Andrew J. Messenger 

Robert Thompson 

Joseph Brown 

James Carson 

Michael Maloney, . 



.Company B 
B 
D 
D 
D 
D 



John Haefner. . . 
John F. Meyers. 
Michael Burns. 
Martin Brennon 
William Boodey. 
James Cornell. 



.Company 



E 
E 
H 
I 
I 
I 



* Dr. Thompson was recominissioned but failed to re-muster. 



FIGHTING AT MIDNIGHT. 409 



CHAPTER XXI. 

FIGHTING AT MIDNIGHT.— FALL OF PETERSBURG AND RICHMOND. 

DURING the first half of the month of March, 1865, deserters 
by the score came into our lines nightly, telling of discour- 
agement and demoralization in the Confederate camp. The New 
York papers, which were now hawked through our canvas cities as 
regularly as they were through the streets of the Metropolis, were 
fdled with glowing accounts of Sheridan's victories in the Valley, 
Sherman's triumphant advance through the Carolinas, and Union 
successes in every direction. And the prospect of a speedy 
collapse of the Slaveholders' Rebellion, and consequent termina- 
tion of the war for the preservation of the Union, became daily 
more and yet more apparent. 

As day after day slipped by our usual drills were one after 
another discontinued, and the time they had occupied devoted to 
searching inspections and reviews ; and soon general, special, and 
circular orders, from army, corps, division and brigade headquar- 
ters, referring to details of every conceivable nature, began to 
pour in upon us in almost hourly installments. 

From the 14th to the 23d our time was fully occupied in 
pushing to absolute completion every detail relating to our pre- 
paration for what we all believed was to be our most glorious and 
last campaign. On the morning of the 21th we were prepared 
to leave our camps for good on five minutes' notice, and we rested 
from our labors, anxiously waiting for that sometimes dreaded 
but now magic word " forward." And we did not have long to 
wait, for though we knew it not, orders had already left General 
Grant's headquarters, directing a general advance on the morning 
of the 29th. Sheridan, with his ten thousand troopers, flushed 
with their victories in the Valley, and their daring achievements 



410 HISTORY OF THE 124TK NEW YORK VOLUNTEERS. 

about the Confederate rear, were again with the besieging army, 
awaiting like the rest of us, orders to advance once more against 
our old adversary, Lee's grand army of Northern Virginia. 

A special report of effective strength of the 124th called for 
at noon on the 24th showed a fighting force of nearly four hun- 
dred enlisted men, all in the best of spirits and ready for the fray. 
And I had with me to assist in commanding and caring for these 
men, the following named officers, in the bravery and ability of 
all but two or three of whom I had the most implicit confidence. 

FIELD. 

Acting Lieutenant Colonel — Captain J as. W Benedict. 
Acting Major— Captain Henry F. Travis. 



STAFF. 



Surgeon — Major R. V K. Montfort. 
Asst. Surgeon— Lieut. Edward C. Fox. 



Chaplain — Captain T. Scott Bradner. 
Quartermaster — Lieut. Ellis A. Post. 



Acting Adjutant— Lieut. John S. King. 



LINE. 



Captain John 0. Wood, Commanding. 
First Lieutenant Thomas Hart with. 



First Lieutenant David U. Quick Commanding. 

Captain Thomas Tapt Commanding.. 

First Lieutenant Ebenezer Holbert, Commanding. 
Second Lieutenant Thomas G. Mabie, with. 

Captain Daniel Sayer, Commanding. 

First Lieutenant William Benjamin, with.. 

Captain Edward J. Carmick, Commanding. 
First Lieutenant Abram P Francisco, with. 

Captain Thomas J. Quick, Commanding. .• .. 

Second Lieutenant Lewis T. Shultz, with. 

Captain Theodore M. Roberson, Commanding 

Second Lieutenant Sylvester Lawson, Commanding 

Captain Robert A. Malone, Commanding 

Second Lieutenant Woodward T. Ogden, with. 



. . Company A 
A 

.Company B 

.Company C 

.Company D 
D 

. . Company E 

E 

.Company F 
F 

.Conrpany G 
G 

.Company H 

.Company I 

Company K 
K 



NON-COMMISSIONED STAFF. 



Sergeant Major Andrew Armstrong. 
Qmr. Sergeant Geo. H. Chandler. 
Commissary Sergeant W. P Uptegrove. 



Hospital Steward Coe L. Reevs. 
Chief Bugler Moses P. Ross. 
Chief Musician J. G. Buckley. 



IN FiJUNT OF PETERSBURG. 411 

Our only officer in the field and not with the regiment was 
Captain Thomas W Bradley, who was on duty at Division 
headquarters, as special aid to Major General Mott. 

The Confederate leaders did not however allow Grant's army 
to open the campaign. " General Lee — foreseeing clearly the 
speedy downfall of the Confederate cause unless averted by a 
prompt concentration of his remaining forces and a telling blow 
delivered thereby on some one of our encircling armies, which 
were now palpably crushing out the life of the rebellion — resolved 
to anticipate Grant's initiative by an attack on his lines before 
Petersburg and Richmond. This attack was made " (on the morn- 
ing of the 26th) '* on Fort Steedman, nearly east of Petersburg, 
where its success would have cut our army in two, and probably 
compelled a hasty concentration to recover our lines and works ; 
thereby opening a door for the unassailed withdrawal of the 
rebel army southward by the most direct route, to unite with 
that of Johnson and thus overpower Sherman. It was delivered 
by Gordon with two divisions : all that was disposable of the 
rebel Army of Virginia being collected just behind the assault- 
ing column and held in hand as a support. Gordon charged at 
daybreak; his men rushing instantly across the narrow space 
that here separated the confronting lines, and pouring into Fort 
Steedman, which was held by the 14th N. Y Artillery, who were 
completely surprised and overwhelmed ; part of them fleeing for 
their lives, while the residue were made prisoners. The guns 
were deserted without a struggle and immediately turned by 
their captors on the adjacent works, where three batteries were 
abandoned by the Union troops and seized by the enemy Here 
their triumph ended. Their assault on Fort Haskill, next to 
Fort Steedman on the left, was but feebly made and easily re- 
pulsed ; they failed to press forward and seize the crest of the 
ridge behind the forts, thus cutting our army in two ; the 20,000 
whom Lee had massed in their rear to support the assault either 
were not promptly ordered forward or failed to respond ; so that 
their initial success had only isolated them, a comparative hand- 
ful in the midst of an army of foes. In short, it w T as the mine ex- 



412 HISTOEY OF THE 124TH NEW YORK VOLUNTEERS. 

plosion repeated with the parts reversed. For when our soldiers 
had recovered from their astonishment, and the Ninth Corps 
was rallied to drive the foe out — Hartranft's division making the 
counter assault — the rebels were too few to hold their perilous 
position; while the ground over which they had reached it 
was so swept by our guns from either side, that 2,000 pre- 
ferred to surrender, rather than follow their fleeing comrades 
through that terrible fire. Aside from this, the loss of either 
army was some 2,500. 

" Nor was this the extent of the enemy's mishap. General 
Meade, convinced that their lines generally must have been 
depleted to strengthen this assault, ordered an advance along 
the front of the Sixth and Second Corps, holding our works 
before Petersburg to the left of Fort Steedman ; and this was 
made with such spirit that the thinned line of the enemy recoiled 
before it, and their strongly intrenched picket line was wrested 
from them and permanently held by their antagonists. Thus, 
instead of shaking himself from Grant's grip, Lee had only tight- 
ened it by this bold stroke." * 

Now all we of the 124th knew at the time of the capture and 
recapture of Fort Steadman, consisted in our being awakened at 
half past three o'clock on the morning of the 25th by the distant 
thunder of battle. Neither did we take any active part in the 
capture of the enemy's strong line of picket pits along our front. 
The 25th day of March 1865, will nevertheless ever be to us one 
of the most glorious days of our existence as a regiment. 

On hearing the sound of heavy and prolonged artillery firing, 
in and about Fort Steadman, the troops of de Trobriand's brigade, 
arose from their rough bunks, folded their blankets and buckled 
on their accoutrements. Soon orders came to strike tents, and 
about five a. m. the various regiments formed in battle line and 
manned the works in front of their respective camps. A little 
later the First division of our corps moved over the works at our 
right, and advancing rapidly over the cleared space in front 
reached and engaged the enemy's pickets, driving them from their 

* The American Conflict, by Horace Greeley, p. 728. 



IN FRONT OF PETERSBURG. 413 

pits, which were soon manned with Union troops. While this 
was taking place our brigade remained behind its powerful line 
of works, out of harm's way quietly looking on. About noon the 
Confederates attempted to regain the line they had been driven 
from in the morning, and soon made it so uncomfortable for our 
troops in front that reinforcements were called for. Several 
regiments moved out from the other brigades of our division, 
and at one o'clock an orderly rode into the camp of the 124th, 
and handed me an order which directed that I proceed forth- 
with with my regiment to a certain house on the picket line 
almost in front of our camp, and there report for duty to General 
, the corps officer of the clay- 
Without a moment's delay we sprang over the works and were 
soon at the point designated, but the corps officer of the day had 
gone to some other portion his line and I halted my command 
near this house, where we lay down on the ground to await his 
return. On a little knoll just in front of us lay the 5th New 
Hampshire, almost unengaged, but a short distance to our right a 
brisk fight was in progress which lasted half an hour or more; 
and occasionally a stray bullet from that direction went whistling 
over our heads. Presently an aide rode up and led the 5th New 
Hampshire off to our right at a double-quick, leaving a considerable 
number of unoccupied pits on the picket line in front, for their 
videttes were withdrawn and hastened off after the main body 
We were lying at the foot of the slope, in a very unfavorable 
position to receive an attack, and as the officer of the day had 
not yet appeared I concluded to move up and occupy temporarily 
at least the commanding position from which the New Hampshire 
regiment had been withdrawn, and to advance a line of videttes 
to the unoccupied picket pits. 

There was considerable firing at irregular intervals on either 
side of us, and not knowing how soon we might be assailed or 
how long we might remain, I concluded to strengthen our now 
most favorable position by throwing up a light line of breastworks. 
We did not have a shovel with us, but when I gave the order there 
stood near at hand two or three frame outbuildings/ which twenty 



414 HISTORY OF THE 124TH NEW YORK VOLUNTEERS. 

minutes later, were among the things that had been, and the ma- 
terial which had composed them was piled up along our front as 
a basis for a barricade which was ere long covered with dirt 
shoveled on with pieces of boards and tin plates. 

As soon as these works were bullet-proof, I ordered my men 
to lie down behind them, and walked out to the picket pits in 
front to view the country beyond. The position we occupied was 
on the crest of a slight barren hill which from the picket pits ran 
gently down to an apparently swampy flat covered with a dense 
growth of bushes from six to eight feet high. Beyond this thicket 
and about half a mile away, ran another cleared ridge parallel 
with the one we were occupying, the crest of which was covered 
with a most formidable line of works. 

These works, for aught I could tell, may have been heavily 
manned or wholly unoccupied ; but just as the sun went down 
and its last bright rays rested upon them there came from one 
particular spot continuous flashes of light ; and by the aid of my 
glass I was soon convinced that a column of troops with bayonets 
fixed, were moving through an opening in the line, and march- 
ing out overan old road on which I was standing and across which 
my regiment was lying. That we would soon have a serious job 
on hand was exceedingly probable. Bidding my videttes if at- 
tacked in force to reserve their fire until the enemy was within 
fifty yards of them, and then empty their pieces as deliberately 
as possible and hasten back, I made my way to the main body 
and after notifying my officers what they might expect, took 
position a few feet in front of the extreme right of our line to 
watch further developments. At first T could see nothing of the 
enemy's advancing forces, but presently as I had expected, they 
emerged from the thicket, on the road at the foot of the slope just 
in front of us. They were yet moving in column but the next 
moment their advance, about five hundred strong, rushed forward 
into battle line with as much precision as if they had been on 
drill ; and, without deigning to notice the straggling volley which 
at this juncture my videttes poured into them, lowered their 
bayonets and started up the slope on a charge. It was a grand 



PALL OP PETERSBURG AND RICHMOND. 415 

sight, but somehow I pitied them, feeling sure they had wit- 
nessed the departure of the 5th New Hamshire, but knew noth- 
ing of our having in the interval moved up and intrenched 
ourselves there. 

Our closely followed videttes no sooner reached the main line, 
than 1 shouted the order " commence firing," at which my men 
nothing loth sprang up from behind their works, and opened the 
most telling and terrific fire I have ever witnessed, instantly break- 
ing and completely demoralizing the charging line, the troops of 
which either threw themselves flat on the ground or rushed pell 
niell for shelter into the picket pits until they were literally piled 
on top of each other. A grand opportunity had now arrived and 
we did not let it pass unimproved, but before the order " charge " 
had fairly escaped my lips, right forward rushed my gallant 
regiment. The brave Confederate commander Colonel D. S. 
Troy of the 49th Alabama grasped from its bearer the battle 
flag of his regiment, and waved it frantically, in vain efforts to 
reform his lines ; but ere twenty of his followers responded 
to his appeals we were close upon them, and a bullet from the 
rifle of Private George W Tompkins passed through his breast. 
As he fell Tompkins grasped from him the standard of the 
49th which was trailed beneath our own as sweeping on we 
gathered in as prisoners six of his officers and one hundred and 
sixty-four of his men, and then hurled volley after volley into 
the remainder as they fled in wild disorder toward whence they 
came. 

Not one of my command was killed, wounded or even 
scratched — a circumstance which I believe to be without a parallel 
in the annals of war. An account of this affair written by 
Captain Taft of Company C. on the morning of the 26th, while 
everything was yet fresh in his mind, contains some additional 
details, and differs in some minor particulars from the account 
given above. Lest some of my readers should feel that I have 
overdrawn the picture, I will quote the Captain's account. It 
reads, 

" We remained in the works until about ten o'clock when we 



416 HISTORY OF THE 124TH NEW YOEK VOLUNTEERS. 

were ordered to the front. We advanced and formed a line of 
battle in rear of the 5th New Hampshire, and remained there 
until about half past four o'clock when the 5th N. H. moved to 
the right and we advanced to the front. As soon as our line was 
established we all went to work with a will and soon had a tem- 
porary line of works on the ground that a few hours before had 
been occupied by the rebel pickets. There were two small build- 
ings and a barn in the rear of the line. These were soon torn 
down and the material piled up in front of the regiment. Then 
with tin plates and pieces of boards and anything that could be 
used as a substitute, for we had no shovels, we soon had protec- 
tion enough to call it a breastwork. We had hardly got it com- 
pleted when the Johnnies came down on us driving in our skir- 
mishers, and advancing in two lines on a double-quick, bayonets 
fixed, and with a yell that would have made your hair stand on 
end. As soon as our pickets got in so that our front was clear 
we opened on them with such a terrific fire that it was impossi- 
ble for them to face it. Some sought shelter from our murderous 
fire in the picket pits, others by lying flat on the ground behind 
stumps ; some with a faint hope of saving their lives, crawled 
behind little bushes not larger than house plants, as a drowning 
man would clutch at a straw. In two little picket pits in front 
of our regiment, dug for four men and a corporal, there were 
from fifty to sixty Johnnies, crawled in on top of each other, so 
that very few of them could use their guns. While they were in 
this condition we charged on them taking nearly the whole of 
them prisoners. The most of those who made an attempt to 
escape were shot; some of them attempted to rally while others 
shook their hats and handkerchiefs and shouted us for God's sake 
to stop firing before we killed all of them. The regiments that 
advanced in front of us were the 45th, 47th and 49th Alabama. 
Of these our regiment captured about two hundred officers and 
men, a colonel and a battle-flag. The colonel was shot through 
the breast. We carried back a great many wounded, and buried 
two officers and four men last night; and this morning fourteen 
more were buried." 



FALL OF PETERSBURG AND RICHMOND. 417 

After it was all over and my men had given vent to their 
feelings in three rousing cheers, I dispatched a guard to the 
rear with the prisoners and a messenger for Surgeon Montfort ; 
after which we with the utmost care and tenderness gathered 
up the wounded and conveyed them to the only building left 
standing in our immediate rear, and gave them water, and 
staunched the best we could the flow of blood from their wounds, 
my men in several instances holding their thumbs pressed against 
the severed arteries of their late foes until Surgeon Montfort 
with his assistants arrived and relieved them. 

Colonel Troy had been shot through the lungs and was suffer- 
ing intense bodily pain, but it was scarcely equal to his agony of 
mind over the disaster that had befallen his command. He spoke 
with difficulty, but when I approached him as he lay upon the 
floor in the house, to arrange a blanket which one of my men had 
folded as a pillow for him, but which was slipping from under 
his head, he, after thnnking me for the unexpected kindness 
which had been showered upon him, complained bitterly of what 
he termed the cowardly conduct of his command. He said, it 
was not composed exclusively of his own regiment, which he was 
sure would have behaved better, but of parts of several regiments. 
I am almost certain that he told me his regiment was the 59th 
Alabama, but those w T ho questioned the prisoners sent to the 
rear say it was the 49th, and I have consequently so written it. 

Just after the engagement ended, Major General Mott heard 
that we had a Confederate battle-flag and sent an aid after it. 
During the evening we picked up over two hundred stand of 
arms which had been dropped by our prisoners, the killed, and 
those who had made good their escape. About midnight a 
heavy picket force came out and relieved us, and we received 
orders to return to camp. Early the next morning General 
de Trobriand rode into our camp and after congratulating 
us on what he termed the wonderfully favorable result of our 
encounter on the picket line, took me to do in rather severe terms 
for not sending the captured battle flag to his headquarters before 
General Mott had time to send for it. 



418 HISTORY OF THE 124TH NEW YORK VOLUNTEERS. 

To say that I was exceedingly proud of the success which 
had attended the efforts of my gallant regiment, but feebly ex- 
presses my feelings, but judge if you can of our chagrin when a 
few days later we read an account of the affair in the New York 
papers giving all the glory to the 124th Pennsylvania, a regiment 
we had never heard of. Subsequently however I received a 
medal of honor from the Secretary of War for private Tompkins, 
and was personally tendered the thanks of congress in the shape 
of a brevet commission signed by both the President and Secre- 
tary of War. 

General Lee's attempt to break through the Union lines at 
Fort Stead man, on the 25th, may have caused General Grant to 
alter somewhat his plans of procedure ; but no change was made 
as regards the time fixed upon for our commencement of offensive 
operations against Petersburg. And just before daybreak on the 
morning of the 29th, Sheridan's cavalry, and the Second and 
Fifth Corps, broke camp and marched once more toward the 
Union left. The established line of works covering the city from 
the Appomattox river on the northeast to the point where Hatch- 
er's Run is crossed by the Vaughan road on the south-west, were 
left in charge of the Sixth Corps and three divisions from the 
army of the James under General Ord, which had crossed over 
from the north side of the James river for that purpose on 
the 27th. 

The Second Corps pivoting on the extreme left of Grant's 
intrenched position, swung around in an extended line, over a 
densely wooded region, without encountering any considerable 
opposition, and at night lasted in the woods in front, but yet a 
full mile distant from the refused right of the enemy's intrenched 
line. The Fifth Corps which moved on the left of the Second, 
met with more serious opposition but after considerable fighting, 
and a loss of nearly four hundred in killed and wounded, bivou- 
acked in front of the Confederate breastworks covering the White 
Oak road ; while Sheridan's cavalry moving still farther to the 
left, reached and spent the night at Dinwiddie C. H. ; the net 
results of the day's doings, being the capture of about two hun- 



FALL OF PETEESBUEG AND RICHMOND. 419 

dred prisoners and the planting of a formidable body of troops, in 
a threatening attitude, in front of the enemy's extended right. 
Nothing of special interest transpired during the day in the ranks 
of the 124th, and we spent the night in reserve near the centre 
of our corps line. 

This movement of course jeopardized Lee's communication by 
the Southside railroad, and his dispositions to meet it are thus 
described by Pollard. " To secure the defence of his right 
against this powerful column which Grant had thrust out by his 
left, was the immediate necessity that stared Gen. Lee in the face, 
for it was vitally important to secure the lines whereon his troops 
depended for their daily food ; but it was at the same time indis- 
pensable that he should maintain the long intrenched line that 
covered Petersburg and Richmond. There was no resource but 
the desperate one of stripping his entrenchments to secure his 
menaced right and contest the prize of the Southside railroad. 
On the night of the 29th, General Lee, having perceived Grant's 
manoeuvre, dispatched Pickett's and "Bushrod Johnson's divisions, 
Wise's and Ransom's brigade, Huger's battalion of infantry, and 
Fitzhugh Lee's division, in all about seventeen thousand men, to 
encounter the turning column of the enemy The right of the 
Confederate intrenched line crossed Hatcher's Run at the Boyd- 
ton plank road, and extended some distance along the White Oak 
road. Four miles beyond the termination of this line there was 
a point where several roads from the north and south emerged on 
the White Oak road, forming what is known as the Five Forks. 
It was an isolated position, but one of great value, as it held the 
strategic ke} r that opened up the whole region which Lee was now 
seeking to cover." 

That night a heavy rain storm set in which lasted eighteen 
hours and left the streams so swollen, and the roads so bad, that 
nothing of importance was undei'taken by our infantry on the 
30th. Sheridan however, advanced a portion of his force under 
General Devins and Davies against Five Forks ; but they found 
that place so strongly held that they returned without making 
any serious attempt to take it. 



420 HISTORY OF THE 124TH NEW YORK VOLUNTEERS. 

On the morning of the 31st active operations were resumed, 
and Sheridan advanced with his entire force and carried Five 
Forks, but in the afternoon was routed and driven back full four 
miles. Warren's corps (the Fifth) was meantime attacked in 
flank and so badly handled, that Humphrey was ordered to send 
Miles' division from our corps to his assistance. After the arrival 
of Miles at the scene of Warren's disaster a counter assault was 
made and the Confederates driven back behind their intrenchments, 
on the White Oak road, with heavy loss mainly in prisoners. 

While all this was taking place on our left, Humphrey, with 
portions of his two remaining divisions, made several unsuccess- 
ful attempts to carry the enemy's works along his front. Our 
brigade being in reserve was marched from point to point in readi- 
ness to support any portion of the line where its assistance might 
be required. About two o'clock, p. m., I received orders detach- 
ing the 124th and ordering me to hasten with it to the front and 
occupy a strip of breastworks which since the departure of the 
troops sent to help Warren had been occupied by a light line of 
skirmishers ; but in front of which a Confederate battery, sup- 
ported by a line of infantry, had just appeared. 

These works which had been erected the day before by Miles' 
men, were about a third of a mile distant from where our brigade 
was then standing; and springing to my saddle I led the regi- 
ment off in column, on a run, toward the point designated. When 
within three hundred feet of the works, and just as we were 
emerging from a piece of woods, General Grant and a portion of 
his staff went galloping slowly past, drawing the fire of the Con- 
federate battery; and almost the first shell, which passed very near 
the General's head without causing him to dodge or quicken his 
speed in the least, exploded directly in front of our column, 
severely wounding Adjutant King, who was riding by my side. 
I had just shouted the order " Forward into line," and as company 
A. came up another shell exploded right along side of me ; lit- 
erally disemboweling and tearing to pieces Private James L. 
Johnson of that company- We soon reached the works without 
further loss, and were not long quieting the enemy's guns, and 



FALL OF PETEESBUEG AND EICHMOND. 421 

putting to flight their unprotected line, with no inconsiderable 
loss, while our only casualty at the works was the wounding of 
Private Charles Pullman, one of our sharpshooters in company H. 
About nine o'clock that evening we were withdrawn and moved 
with the brigade to a new position about a, mile to the left. 
There we threw up a new line of works behind which we spent 
the night. 

Lieutenant King was a brave officer and made a most efficient 
Adjutant. When he was wounded I heard a heavy thud and at 
first supposed his horse only had been struck, but the moment 
my eyes rested on the Lieutenant's face, I knew that he was 
seriously injured. A piece of the exploding shell had struck his 
leg, tearing the flesh from his ankle, so that the joint lay open. 
The surgeons told him that the amputation of his foot was an 
absolute necessity but he thought differently, and with character- 
istic firmness refused to allow them to perform the operation. 
He was right, for though lamed for life he is now able to walk 
about on his " condemned " foot without the use of a cane, though 
that article comes very handy at times, and he usually carries it. 

When we awoke on the morning of April 1st, we found that 
Warren's entire corps had been withdrawn from Humphrey's left, 
and moved off to the assistance of Sheridan, whose command had 
since its repulse from Five Forks on the afternoon of the 31st, 
become entirely isolated from the rest of the army During the 
day Sheridan again drove the enemy back to the shelter of his 
earthworks and with the assistance of Warren's infantry fought 
a most desperate and decisive battle with heavy loss to both 
sides in killed and wounded, but which resulted in Sheridan's 
final capture of the place together with over five thousand Con- 
federate prisoners, and a complete repulse of the enemy's right ; 
for the remaining troops, in the words of Pollard, " fled westward 
from Five Forks routed, demoralized, and past control ; and 
General Lee found that his right, rested from his centre, was 
turned almost without a battle." 

The Second Corps remained comparatively inactive through- 
out the day, our brigade having been withdrawn from the front 



422 HISTORY OF THE 124TH NEW YORK VOLUNTEERS. 

at daylight and massed in the woods to the rear, where it rested 
until dark when it again advanced and reoccupied the works from 
which it had in the morning been withdrawn. 

That evening the Union commander ordered the guns in posi- 
tion in front of Petersburg to open fire on the doomed city ; for a 
short and graphic account of which event let us again refer to 
Pollard. " Grant celebrated the victory of Five Forks, and per- 
formed the prelude of what was yet to come by a fierce and con- 
tinuous bombardment along his lines in front of Petersburg. 
Every piece of artillery in the thickly studded forts, batteries 
and mortar beds joined in the prodigious clamor ; reports savagely, 
terrifically crashing through the narrow streets and lanes of 
Petersburg, echoed upwards ; it appeared as if fiends of the air 
were engaged in the sulphurous conflict." 

At a quarter of twelve that night I was ordered by Major- 
General Mott, through General de Trobriand, to advance with the 
124th up to within two hundred and fifty feet of the enemy's 
works in our immediate front, and open a vigorous fire and main- 
tain my position there for half an hour, if possible, but not to 
assault their lines. Just what the object of this strange and 
apparently suicidal movement was I did not stop to inquire, nor 
was I asked the question by a single member of my gallant regi- 
ment, which our commanders knew full well would be found ready, 
in response to orders, to undertake any duty, no matter how 
hazardous it might seem. Five minutes after the order was re- 
ceived we had passed our earthwoi'ks and were moving cau- 
tiously but steadily forward through the black darkness, for the 
heavens above us were shrouded with dense clouds. For about 
two hundred yards all went well. Then just as we entered a 
piece oC woods and the darkness if possible began to grow more 
dense, unseen briars tore our clothes and flesh, tangled vines 
tripped us up, the earth beneath our feet grew spongy, and at 
every step we sank deeper and yet deeper into the mud and 
water. And our further advance in that direction was ren- 
dered impossible by a swale or swamp which, though of no 
great width was under existing circumstances absolutely impass- 



FALL OF PETERSBUKG AND RICHMOND. 423 

able. At this juncture bullets from the enemy's pickets oe»;an 
to whistle among us. But this fire we returned with such prompt- 
ness and effect that their thin line fled for protection to their 
main works, which were near at hand. Then their artillery, 
posted on a high ridge some two hundred yards away, opened a 
terrific fire, and presently a battle line added a continuous shower 
of hissing leaden bullets to the thundering storm of iron shot and 
shell. 

We kept up a rapid fire in return and the roar and racket 
soon became so terrific that General de Trobriand, fearing the 
enemy would sally forth and overpower my command, hurried out 
the 73d N. Y and 110th Penn. to our assistance. The engage- 
ment continued some fifteen minutes after the arrival of our 
support, when an aide rode out and recalled us. The most seri- 
ous obstacle encountered was the swamp, for their shells and 
nearly all of their bullets passed harmlessly over our heads. 

However, some of the latter were aimed only too well, for on 
returning we carried back with a number of seriously wounded, 
the dead body of as brave a soldier as ever fell in battle 
upon Virginia's bloody soil, Captain Edward J Carmick, of Com- 
pany F At early dawn we buried him by the roadside and, with 
eyes moistened with tears and hearts filled with sorrow, carefully 
marked his grave. Eleven months afterward, I received from 
his mother this letter. 

" RONKONKOMA, LAKESIDE LAKELAND, Long ISLAND, MARCH 2, 1866." 

Colonel Weygant, 

" Dear Sir : — As you wore the Colonel of the 12-ith N. Y. State Vols, 
at the time of the death of my beloved son Captain Edward J. Carmick, 
an officer under your command, who was killed in front of Petersburg on 
the night of April 1st 1.865, I take the liberty of addressing you. 
He was a most kind, dutiful and affectionate son, and his death will be to 
me a life-long sorrow ; for it has deprived me of my greatest happiness in 
life, as he was dearer to me than life itself ; and had you, sir, known all of 
his noble qualities you would not, as you may now, think a mother's love 
causes her to eulogize her lost son .more than he deserved. There was 
great sympathy and perfect confidence between us, and he never deceived 
me in his life. While in the army, which was nearly four years, he kept 



424 HISTORY OF THE 124TH NEW YORK VOLUNTEERS. 

up a frequent correspondence with me, and you sir do not seem a stranger 
to me, as be often spoke so kindly of you. He thought you a brave officer 
and appreciated everything yon may have done for his benefit. On the 
2?th of November last, I visited his grave at the junction of the Boydton 
and Quaker roads, eight miles out from Petersburg, Va. I found his grave 
as it had been described to me. General Gibbon, who was in command 
there, kindly furnished me two teams and men sufficient to disinter him, 
and I had his remains put in a metallic coffin that I had carried out from 
New York for the purpose. On opening the grave I found his body in an 
excellent state of preservation and could easily recognize him. A head 
board with his name cut on it with a knife was firmly nailed to a tree under 
which be reposed. Oh, what a satisfaction it was to me to find my dar- 
ling boy had been buried by kind friends, and as you probably gave orders 
for his burial so carefully, a mother's heart is filled with gratitude to you 
for it, and for all and every kindness you may have shown him in life, and 
for kindly caring for his remains in having them deposited where I could 
recover them. I could not rest satisfied until I visited his grave myself. 
I brought home his remains and had them buried with funeral services 
on the 10th of Dec. last near his home. I regret, sir, that I was unable 
to see you when I visited your regiment at Hart's Island when it was there 
waiting to be discharged — you being absent at the time. Yourself and 
the officers of your regiment will always seem near to me as the brothers 
in arms of my beloved son. Had he lived I believe he would always have 
felt a warm friendship for you and them. 

"lam very respectfully, 

" Evelina L. Carmick." 



A few hours after our return to the main line from the appa- 
rently useless and fruitless midnight advance in which Captain 
Carmick was killed, I learned that the object aimed at was not 
only most important but that it had been fully accomplished. 
Grant, it appears, had directed Generals Ord, Wright and Parke, 
who commanded the troops now occupying our intrenched lines 
to the south and east of Petersburg,to assault and if possible carry 
the formidable works in their front at break of day Gen. Lee, 
supposing Grant's chosen point of attack was the now most vulner- 
able Confederate right flank, stripped his works near Petersburg 
of the bulk of their garrison, which early in the evening he hur- 
ried off to a chosen position in front of the Second Corps. But 
shortly after these troops had taken position in front of us, Lee 



FALL OF PETERSBURG AND RICHMOND. 425 

became aware of his mistake, and ordered them back to the works 
from which they had been withdrawn. 

The midnight advance of the 124th and several similar demon- 
strations by regiments of other divisions, on our left, were made to 
delay the return of these troops, and with such success that they 
did not get fairly under way until three a. m., so that when the 
critical moment arrived they were neither in their strong works at 
Petersburg where their services were so sorely needed, nor con- 
fronting the Union turning column on their right, but caught on 
the march half way between the two points, and fully three 
miles distant from either. Our brave Captain Carmick's life was 
therefore not lost in vain, for the affair in which he fell contributed 
in no small degree to the mighty Union success which followed, 
bringing about a result which undoubtedly saved the lives of 
hundreds if not thousands of brave Union soldiers. 

The grand assault was opened promptly at the appointed 
time. Parke, on the Union right, carried the enemy's outer lines, 
capturing several guns and a few prisoners, but found their inner 
lines so strong that he despaired of being able to carry them and 
desisted ; Wright with his own corps (the 6th) supported by two 
divisions of Ord's made an impetuous and determined advance, 
losing heavily but carrying everything in his front, and capturing 
a large number of guns and several thousand prisoners. Ord's 
remaining division forced the enemy's line at Hatcher's Run and 
with the main body under Wright swung around and pressed for- 
ward from the west toward Petersburg. At length, about nine 
a. m. Humphrey advanced with the divisions of Mott, and Hays, 
carried a redoubt, scaled the enemy's works in his front, and clos- 
ing in on the left of Ord's men pushed on with the victorious lines 
toward the fated city 

In this glorious advance a portion of de Trobriand's brigade 
led by the 124th moved at a double-quick over one of the main 
roads leading into Petersburg. Ahead of us was a demoral- 
ized fleeing body of Confederates, whose pace we occasionally 
quickened by hurling into them a few bullets. Several times a 
squad of the hindermost, wheeled and returned our fire, but in 



426 HISTOKY OF THE 1-24TH NEW YOEK VOLUNTEERS. 

so wild a manner that none of us were injured by it. With wild 
huzzas, we pushed rapidly on and did not halt until the enemy had 
been driven behind his inner line of works immediately surround- 
ing the city Sheridan who held position on the extreme Union 
left, and had with him in addition to his cavalry, the bulk of the 
Fifth Corps and Miles' division from our corps, was equally suc- 
cessful; and Avhen in the afternoon Miles rejoined us he brought 
with him several captured guns and six hundred prisoners. 

The enemy yet held the city, and Lee was permitted to spend 
the remainder of the day, making new dispositions of the troops 
of his shattered army, for " Butcher Grant " could not be made to 
see the necessity of wasting ten thousand lives in assaulting the 
formidable works on the outskirts of the city, which he declared 
could at the end of a few hours be carried by a corporal's guard. 
Early in the afternoon Mott's division was assigned a position in 
the most advanced Union line, while the remaining troops of our 
corps moved to the left, to complete our investing half circle ; both 
flanks of which that evening rested on the Appomattox River. 

About four p. M. a strong skirmishing; force was advanced on 
our right to feel the enemy's lines, and soon became hotly en- 
gaged, but pushed resolutely forward until General Grant, who 
had established temporary headquarters in a frame house just 
behind where our brigade was lying, sent a messenger with orders 
for them to desist. 

Lee's judicious redisposition of his troops which was carried 
on in plain view of the Union outlooks during the afternoon, was 
not for the purpose of attempting to hold fast to Petersburg, for 
that he knew was now an impossibility, but merely to gain a few 
hours for another purpose. At eleven a. m. he had sent a dis- 
patch to the Confederate War Department at Richmond advising 
that preparations be immediately made for the evacuation of that 
city And that night while the elated troops of the investing 
army lay sleeping by the side of their loaded weapons around 
Petersburg, there was being enacted in the Confederate Capital, 
only thirteen miles distant, one of the wildest scenes ever wit- 
nessed on this continent. Pollard, the author of The Lost Cause, 



FALL OF PETERSBURG AND RICHMOND. j_27 

was in the city at the time, and as the fall of Richmond was 
the direct result of the successes at Petersburg, in which the 
124 th bore an honorable part, I will insert here a few passages 
from his weird story of the reign of terror which preceded its 
evacuation. 

"A small slip of paper, sent up from the War Department to 
President Davis, as he was seated in his pew in St. Paul's church 
contained the news of the most momentous event of the war. It 
is a most remarkable circumstance that the people of Richmond 
had remained in profound ignorance of the fighting which had 
been taking place for three days on Gen. Lee's lines. There was 
not a rumor of it in the air. Not a newspaper office in the city 
had any inkling of what was going on. Indeed for the past few 
days there had been visible reassurance in the Confederate Capi- 
tal; there were rumors that Johnston was moving to Lee's lines 
and a general idea that the combined force would take the offen- 
sive against the enemy. But a day before Grant had commenced 
his heavy movement a curious excitement had taken place in 
Richmond. The morning train had brought from Petersburg the 
wonderful rumor that Gen. Lee had made anight attack, in which 
he had crushed the enemy along his whole line. How was 

it possible to imagine that in the next twenty -four hours, war, 
with its train of horrors, was to enter the scene ; that this peace- 
ful city, a secure possession for four years, was at last to succumb ; 
that it was to be a prey to a great conflagration, and that all the 
hopes of the Southern Confederacy were to be consumed in one 
day, as a scroll in the fire ? 

" As the day wore on, clatter find bustle in the streets denoted 
the progress of the evacuation, and convinced those who had been 
incredulous of its reality The disorder increased each hour. 
The streets were thronged with fugitives making their way to 
the railroad depot ; pale women and little shoeless children strug- 
gled in the crowd ; oaths and blasphemous shouts smote the ear. 
Wagons were being hastily loaded at the departments with boxes, 
trunks, etc., and driven to the Danville depot. In the afternoon 
a special train carried from Richmond President Davis and some 



428 HISTORY OF THE 124TH NEW YORK VOLUNTEERS. 

of his cabinet. At the departments all was confusion ; there was 
no system ; there was no answer to inquiries ; important officers 
were invisible, and every one felt like taking care of himself. 
Outside the mass of hurrying fugitives, there were collected here 
and there mean-visaged crowds, generally around the commissary 
depots ; they had already scented prey ; they were of that brutal 
and riotous element that revenges itself on all communities in a 
time of great public misfortune. 

" When it was finally announced by the Mayor that those who 
had hoped for a dispatch from Gen. Lee contrary to what he had 
telegraphed in the morning, had ceased to indulge such an expec- 
tation, and that the evacuation of Richmond was a foregone con- 
clusion, it was proposed to maintain order in the city by two 
regiments of militia; to destroy every drop of liquor in the ware- 
houses and stores ; and to establish a patrol through the night. 
But the militia ran through the fingers of their officers ; the 
patrols could not be found after a certain hour ; and in a short 
while the whole city was plunged into mad confusion and inde- 
scribable horrors. 

" It was an extraordinary night ; disorder, pillage, shouts, 
mad revelry of confusion. In the now dimly lighted city could 
be seen black masses of people, crowded around some object of 
excitement, besieging the commissary stores, destroying liquor, 
intent perhaps upon pillage, and swaying to and fro in whatever 
momentary passion possessed them. The gutters ran w T ith a 
liquor freshet, and the fumes filled the air. Some of the strag- 
gling soldiers passing through the city, easily managed to get 
hold of quantities of the liquor. Confusion became worse con- 
founded : the sidewalks were encumbered with broken glass ; 
stores were entered at pleasure and stripped from top to bottom ; 
yells of drunken men, shouts of roving pillagers, wild cries of dis- 
tress filled the air, and made night hideous. 

" But a new horror was to appear upon the scene and take 
possession of the community To the rear-guard of the Confeder- 
ate force on the north side of the James River, under General 
Ewell, had been left the duty of blowing up the iron clad vessels 



FALL OF PETERSBURG AND RICHMOND 429 

in the James and destroying the bridges across that river. The 
Richmond, Virginia, and an iron ram, were blown to the winds , 
the little shipping at the wharfs was fired ; and the three bridges 
that spanned the river were wrapped in flames, as soon as the 
last troops had traversed them. The work of destruction might 
well have ended here. But Gen. Ewell, obeying the letter of his 
instructions, had issued orders to fire the four principal tobacco 
warehouses of the city 

" The warehouses were fired, the flames seized on the neigh- 
boring buildings and soon involved a wide and widening area ; the 
conflagration passed rapidly beyond control ; and in this mad 
fire, this wild unnecessary destruction of their property the citi- 
zens of Richmond had a fitting souvenir of the imprudence and 
recklessness of the departing Administration. 

" Morning broke on a scene never to be forgotten. The 

great warehouse on the basin was wrapped in flames ; the fire 
was reaching whole blocks of buildings ; Its roar sounded 

in the ears, it leaped from street to street ; pillagers were busy 
at their vocation, and in the hot breath of the fire were figures as 
of demons contending for prey. 

" The sun was an hour or more above the horizon, when sud- 
denly there ran up the whole length of main street the cry of 
'Yankees, Yankees ! ' The upper part of this street was choked 
with crowds of pillagers — men provided with drays, others roll- 
ing barrels up the streets, or bending under heavy burdens, and 
intermixed with them women and children with smaller lots of 
plunder in bags, baskets, tubs, buckets, and tin-pans. As the 
cry of ' Yankees ' was raised, this motley crowd tore up the 
street, cursing, screaming, trampling upon each other, alarmed 
by an enemy not yet in sight, and madly seeking to extricate 
themselves from imaginary dangers. Presently, beyond this 
crowd following up the tangled mass of plunderers, but not press- 
ing or interfering with them, was seen a small body of Federal 
cavalry riding steadily along. Forty Massachusetts troopers 
dispatched by Gen. Weitzel to investigate the condition of affairs, 
had ridden without let or hindrance into Richmond." 



430 HISTORY OF THE 124TH NEW YORK VOLUNTEERS. 

Meantime everything in and about Petersburg remained un- 
usually orderly and quiet. During the night Glen. Lee and his 
army stole away over the muffled bridges so silently that it was 
said they had taken off their shoes that we might not be dis- 
turbed by the echo of their departing footsteps. On the morn- 
ing of the 3d Gen. Grant sent a governor and provost-guard 
into the city, and forthwith set his army in motion after Lee's 
fleeing veterans. 

CASUALTIES NEAR HATCHER'S RUN", MARCH 31, 1865. 



Lieutenant and acting Adjutant John S. King 
Private James L. Johnson Co. A. .... 

" Charles Pullman " H. 



Wounded. 

Killed. 

Wounded. 



CASUALTIES NEAR BOYDTON ROAD APRIL 1-2, 1865. 



Captain Edward J. Carmick, 


Co. 


F.. .. 


Killed. 


Sergeant Albert I. Bunce 


" 


C. 


Wounded 


Corporal Samuel Yoemans 


" 


A 


a 


Private William A Ketalic 


" 


A 


tt 


" John J. Messenger 


" 


B 


tt 


Luke Petitt 


" 


C 


et 


" Andrew W. Conklin 


Co. 


K. 


it 



THE PURSUIT. 43] 



CHAPTER XXII. 

The Pursuit. — Our last Engagement. — Lee Surrenders. 

THE Confederate forces, after their hasty flight from the 
Petersburg and Richmond lines under coyer of the friendly 
darkness, on the night of April 2d, concentrated at Chesterfield 
C. H., a small village situated several miles to the west and 
about eight miles distant from each of the above named cities. 
From that point the Veteran army of Northern Virginia, yet forty 
thousand strong, moved rapidly westward along the northern 
shore of the Rappahannock river some thirty miles to Amelia C. H. 
Simultaneously with telegraphing to the Confederate War 
Department on Sunday morning the necessity of immediate pre- 
paration for the evacuation of their capital, General Lee had sent 
a dispatch to Danville ordering a supply of commissary and Quar- 
termaster's stores forwarded to Amelia C. H. This dispatch was 
duly received, and early that afternoon three long trains heavily 
laden with the stores called for arrived in safety at the Amelia 
C. H. station ; but the officer in charge of them, there found 
awaiting his arrival a dispatch from one of the blundering Con- 
federate War Department officials, directing him to hasten for- 
ward to Richmond with the trains in his charge. What the 
Richmond officials really meant to call for were the empty cars ; 
but this well trained officer obeyed the second order without 
asking for the why or wherefore just as promptly as he had the 
first one ; and among the property consumed by the conflagration 
which that night swept over the business portion of Richmond, 
were these trains laden with the food with which Lee expected 
to replenish the haversacks of his weary and hungry army on its 
arrival at Amelia C. II. And it is said that when the Confeder- 



4:32 HISTORY OF THE 124TH NEW YOEK VOLDNTEEES. 

ate chief, on reaching that point, learned of the calamity, his 
heart sank within him. 

The pursuit was begun on the morning of the 3d. Before 
the sun was up Sheridan, with his cavalry and the Fifth Corps, 
was moving up the south bank of the Rappahannock toward Jet- 
tersville, a depot on the Danville railroad about seven miles 
south-east of Amelia C. H. Meade, with the Second and Sixth 
Corps, followed close after Sheridan, starting at eight a. m. and 
pushing rapidly forward with scarce a ten minute halt until 
ten p. m. 

During the day our brigade, which had the advance of the 
Second Corps column and marched full twenty miles, gathered in 
about two hundred dismounted Confederate cavalrymen and cap- 
tured one brass field-piece. 

On the morning of the 4th we were awakened from our slum- 
bers at three a. m., and an hour later resumed our onward march. 
Many of the Orange Blossoms had eaten their last hard tack 
before lying down to rest the night before, and consequently 
started that morning breakfastless ; but all were in the best of 
spirits, and not one of the number suggested such a thing as wait- 
ing for rations to come up, or asked to be sent to the ambulances 
or allowed to lag behind because of sickness or blistered feet. 

About ten a. m. a general halt of Humphrey's Corps was 
ordered, and presently General de Trobriand directed me to 
advance with my regiment into the country to the right of our 
line of march for a mile or two and see if I could not forage a 
meal for the brigade. The 124th had never'before been sent out 
on a regular foraging expedition, and as many of the boys were 
very hungry, this order was received with a hearty cheer. 

Hastily forming column and moving from the main road 
through a piece of woods and over the cleared fields about a mile, 
we came to a deep and thickly wooded ravine, through which ran 
a stream of water. Following the course of the ravine a short 
distance we reached and turned into a road that led down to an 
old fashioned mill. Near this mill there stood a dilapidated 
frame house in which dwelt the miller, who, hearing our approach 



THE PURSUIT. 433 

came out to see who we were and what we wanted. His honest 
face wore a surprised look when he saAV our clothes were blue 
instead of grey ; and on learning our errand he stoutly declared 
that a bod}' of Confederate cavalry had been there the day before 
and carried off every bushel of grain from the mill and nearly 
every particle of food from his house, besides driving off all his 
live stock. 

My hungry boys refused to credit the old man's story, and 
clamored so hard for the privilege of testing its truth by examin- 
ing the mill for themselves, that I allowed about twenty of them 
to enter it. The first floor contained nothing worth their notice, 
but on the upper floor they found a small blind bin, filled with 
corn, whereupon the frightened miller was pressed into service 
and ordered to start the mill and grind it for us. He instantly 
set about the forced task, but his movements were so slow that 
several of the men I had detailed to superintend the job volun- 
teered to assist him. 

In a trice the raceway gate was hoisted to its utmost limit, 
and as the water rushed through and fell on the old rickety 
water-wheel it started with a creak and a groan, but was soon 
rushing around with such speed that the old mill trembled and 
shook as if it had the ague. The noise of the grinding grew 
louder and yet louder ; the boys shouted at each other as with 
boxes, pails and measures they hastened from the bin above to 
the hopper below ; and the old man grew frantic, and stormed 
about, unheeded by all, while his wife thrust her head from an 
upper window of the house and stared at the shaking mill with 
an expression of countenance indicating most plainly that she was 
sure the old man instead of his corn was in the hopper. 

Presently several young slave women crawled out from their 
hiding place in the upper part of a log cabin, wearing on their 
black features a frightened grin as if they were uncertain whether 
the day of doom or of jubilee had arrived ; then three half grown 
pigs, aroused by the noise of the mill, broke from a pen under or 
near the house, and started up the side of the ravine toward the 
plain above, but the foremost one was soon brought down by a 



434 HISTORY OF THE 124TH NEW YORK VOLUNTEERS. 

shot fired from a rifle in the hands of Lieutennnt Lawson, and 
the remaining two, foolishly halting to take a farewell smell of 
their defunct brother, soon shared his ignoble fate — death at the 
bands of a hungry Yankee. 

Tn the brush near where the pigs fell, several loaded muskets 
were found, and one of the slaves secretly informed some of my 
men of the whereabouts of several sides of bacon. Meantime 
the grinding continued, but just as the last measure of corn was 
cast into the hopper the stones became clogged, a crash was heard, 
and a man rushed out and shut down the gate ; the upper grind- 
ing stone had been thrown from the spindle and gone crashing 
through the side of the mill. 

Leaving Captain Quick with Company Gr. in charge of the 
corn, bacon and fresh pork already collected at the mill, I divided 
the balance of the regiment into three parts and sent each off in 
a different direction, with orders not to enter any dwelling, but to 
borrow all the cattle, pigs, sheep and poultry they could find within 
a mile of the mill, and to return there at the end of an hour. I 
moved with one of these columns, which did not return empty 
handed, but that under Captain Travis was the most successful. 
It was the last to return, and came in drawing a platform wagon 
which the captain had personally fitted up by placing a door on 
an old set of running gears. This wagon was loaded with car- 
cases of sheep, pigs, and calves, and was drawn in true fireman 
fashion by a long rope. Behind it was a motley procession, 
headed by a long horned sheep of the male gender, tied to the 
wagon, and several very black contrabands, driving two or three 
wonderfully lean cows. Nearly every man in the regiment had 
captured a chicken, goose or duck, and had his haversack filled 
to its utmost limit with corn meal and bacon. But all this plun- 
der when divided among three thousand men made but a scanty 
meal. After partaking of a late dinner we advanced about three 
miles and halted for the night. 

At half past three a. m. on the 5th we resumed our onward 
march, and not a few again started breakfastless ; but at about 
eight a. m. we were overtaken by a supply train, and received 



THE PURSUIT 435 

three days' rations of hard bread, sugar and coffee. At dusk 
that evening we joined Sheridan's command at Jettersville. where 
it had taken position across the Danville railroad, thereby cutting 
off all supplies from that quarter for Lee's army, which was yet 
at Amelia C. H., where it had been obliged to remain since the 
morning of the 4th, in order to gather in from the country around 
a small stock of forage for its horses and food for its men. Our 
corps during the evening took up a strong position on the left of 
the Fifth and bivouacked. 

Sheridan's command had arrived there that morning; and 
during the day a severe engagement had taken place between a 
division of Union cavalry under General Davies and a body of 
Lee's infantry, which had resulted in a loss to the Confederates 
of a foraging train of one hundred and eighty wagons, together 
with a battery of artillery and about a hundred prisoners. 

That night preparations were made for an advance in force 
at daylight on the 6th against the Confederate position at Amelia 
C. H. But Lee, during the night, moved off toward Farmville 
in the vain hope of being able by destroying bridges behind him 
to escape into the mountains beyond Lynchburg. 

On the morning of the 6th the pursuit was resumed. Each 
corps of Meade's army advanced in a distinct column, the Second 
Corps taking the road Lee was on and the Fifth and Sixth mov- 
ing through the country on either flank. 

General de Trobriand's brigade again led the Second Corps 
and soon came up to Lee's rear-guard at a point where the road 
we were on crossed a small stream called Sailors Creek. Here 
the 20th Indiana was deployed in a heavy skirmish line and 
soon became hotly engaged. The other regiments as they came up 
hastily deployed into battle line behind the skirmishers. But 
before our brigade line was completed, Major General Mott rode 
to the front to see for himself what the opposing line was com- 
posed of; and just as our regiment was taking position Captain 
Bradley came riding back with orders directing General de Tro- 
briand to send forward the 124th without delay. A moment 
later the Sons of Orange were advancing at a run. As we passed 



436 HISTORY OF THE 124TH NEW YOKE VOLUNTEERS. 

General Mott, he pointed across a bridge that spanned the stream 
and shouted, "Deploy as soon as you cross, and take that train." 
I could see nothing that looked like a Confederate wagon train, 
and while my men were deploying on the open side hill under 
the fire of a straggling line of retreating Confederate skirmishers, 
the General waved his hand as if he wished me to move to the 
left, through a piece of woods. Springing from my saddle, I ran 
down the bank a few yards, and stooped down so as to be able 
to look under the branches of the trees in the direction indicated. 
Winding over a steep hill about a quarter of a mile distant, I saw 
the coveted train, and hastened back toward my horse determined 
that the 124th should have the glory of capturing it. 

Before I had time to remount General Mott was at my side ; 
and, with one foot in the stirrup, I turned around to receive such 
further orders as he might have to give. He raised his arm and 
pointed through the woods saying " Weygant move by the — " at 
that juncture a bullet whistled past my ear and buried itself in 
his thigh, and as a slight "oh" escaped his lips, he extended his 
hands toward me and I helped him from his saddle. Captain 
Bradley and several other members of his staff were soon with 
him, and divining what the balance of his order would have been 
I started my command by the left flank through the woods, but 
was soon halted by an order from General de Trobriand and re- 
called to the main line. 

After a delay of about ten minutes — during which General de 
Trobriand assumed command of the division, and Colonel Shep- 
herd of 1st Me. H. A. our senior regimental commander took his 
place at the head of our brigade — the advance was resumed with 
our entire division in battle line and the 20th Indiana yet de- 
ployed as skirmishers. Meantime the enemy in our immediate 
front had fled. 

When about two miles beyond the bridge the 124th was 
ordered to hasten to the front and relieve the 20th Ind. which 
was out of ammunition. This was speedily accomplished, much 
to the delight of my men, who hurrying forward soon came in 
sight of the wagon train which General Mott had seen from the 



THE PURSUIT. 437 

bridge where he was wounded. We were soon near enough 
to open so effective a fire on the teams as to speedily compel the 
abandonment of fifteen or twenty wagons, and two brass guns 
which were being moved with them. Whenever a horse fell the 
drivers and guard hastily unhitched and rode off the balance of 
the team. As wagon after wagon fell into our hands my men 
became fairly wild with excitement, and it was with great diffi- 
culty that I could hold back that portion of the skirmish line 
moving nearest the road, which was under the immediate charge 
of Captain Travis, who was the wildest man of them all. Occa- 
sionally the enemy's rear-guard would about face and send a 
volley or two toward us and every now and then one or more of 
my men would go down, but their comrades would only quicken 
their pace, yell the louder and load and fire the faster. For miles 
the boys moved so rapidly that I was obliged to keep my horse 
on a jog trot to keep with them. 

At length, as we emerged from a strip of woods, we saw stand- 
ing in battle array behind light earthworks, on the brow of a hill 
just in front of us, a solid battle line of the foe. On their left 
flank there stood, drawn up as if ready to charge, a squadron of 
cavalry, about a hundred strong. I immediately ordered a halt 
and opened a brisk fire. The left and centre of my line took 
shelter behind the trees in the edge of the woods, and did some 
splendid shooting, but the right stretched across an open field, 
and I presently heard from that direction a charging shout and 
saw Captain Travis with his old company numbering all told 
about thirty men, start on a foolhardy charge toward the enemy's 
cavalry, and I was obliged to hasten off in that direction and 
recall him. Our main line soon came up and in the words of our 
brigade report " charged with the skirmish line driving the enemy 
from his works and capturing a large number of prisoners." 

Some two hours later the union advance was again disputed 
by a battle line posted as was the first behind earthworks on a 
ridge. This time we found ourselves confronted by a large por- 
tion of Lee's main body instead of his rear-guard. The works 
which were manned by a solid battle line, studded at intervals with 



438 HISTORY OF THE 124TH NEW YORK VOLUNTEERS. 

artillery and gayly decked with Confederate battle flags, ran from 
a point almost opposite the right of my skirmish line along our 
front, and extended into the woods to our left as far as I could 
see. 

In a few moments our main line again came up and prepared 
to charge with the skirmishers. Meantime heavy firing broke 
out on our left, and once again the woods and hills of Virginia 
echoed the mingling thunders of a regular battle. 

Our entire division was soon hastening forward with wild 
shouts, on what proved to be its last general charge against its 
brave old adversaries ; and we soon swept up to and over the 
enemy's works in our front, capturing several hundred prisoners 
together with a number of battle-flags and five or six pieces of 
artillery 

The Sixth Corps and Sheridan's cavalry were fighting on our 
left. They met with more serious opposition than we had en- 
countered and were twice repulsed with a loss of over two thou- 
sand killed and wounded, but in the end carried everything before 
them, and captured nearly two-thirds of Lieutenant-General 
E well's Corps, including Ewell himself and five of his general 
officers. 

After this engagement, called the battle of Sailors Creek, in 
which our regiment took twenty-eight prisoners, and lost a con- 
siderable number of men, there was a halt of nearly an hour. 
But once under way again we soon overtook the enemy's rear- 
guard and pressing on, drove it from hill top to hill top, gather- 
ing in prisoners by the hundred and causing the abandonment of 
wagon after wagon and gun after gun until sundown, wdien our 
corps was ordered to halt for the night. This day's losses to 
Lee's army included nearly six thousand prisoners, four hundred 
wagons and upwards of thirty pieces of artillery 

" The decisive character of this result," writes Swinton, after 
describing the doings of the Sixth Corps and Sheridan's cavalry, 
" was largely due to the energetic movements of the Second Corps, 
which, moving to the right, had pressed the Confederates closely 
in a rear-guard fight all day till night when it had attained a 



OUR LAST ENGAGEMENT. 



439 



position near the month of Sailors Creek. Here the Confederates 
were so crowded upon, that a large train was captured and many 
hundred taken prisoners. The trophies of the Second Corps in- 
cluded, in addition several pieces of artillery and thirteen flags." 
In this series of engagements fought along Sailor's Creek, Va. 
April 6, 1865, occurred the following 



CASUALTIES OF THE 124TH. 



Sergt. John H. Warford 
Sergt. Wbitmore Terwilliger 
Corp. William Sutherland. 
Cokp. Austin W Lamereaux 
Corp. Moses Crist 
Private Philetus Lomas 
James A. Benton 
" John W Garrison 
" Solomon Davenport 

George L. Howard 
" Charles Cable 

Abraham J. Cronk 
" Samuel Lewis 
Matthew Manny 
James Flannigan 
" John Murphy 

John S. ( 'rawford 
" Lewis E. Tonton 
" Amos De Long 
" Daniel Morgan 
" John Polhamus 

John P Burkhart 



Co. 



A .. .. 


Wounded 


I 


... 


I 


. .. 


E 


it 


E 


it 


E 


. . Killed. 


I 


t i 


B. 


d. 


K 


" 


K... 


. . . Wounded 


K. 


a 


K 


... 


K. .. .. 


it 


I 


it 


I .... 




H 


« 


F 


tt 


E 


it 


D 


" 


A 


" 


A 


1 1 


A . . . 


Missing 



At an early hour on the morning of the 7th the pursuit was 
resumed with Humphrey's Corps again leading. About eight 
a. m. we reached Highbridge, a. small place some six miles east 
of Farmville, where the winding Appomattox is crossed by both 
a railroad and a wason road bridge. These bridges, one of which 
was an immense structure, were built mainly of wood, and just 
before our arrival had been fired by the Confederate rear-guard — 
a rather formidable body of which yet held the further shore with 
the evident determination to hold back our advance until the 
bridges were destroyed and then delay as long as possible our 
crossing in order that their main body might have time to gather 



440 HISTORY OF THE 124TH NEW YORK VOLUNTEERS. 

in a small supply of forage for their half-starved horses, and food 
for the hungry men. 

General Barlow's division had the advance of our corps that 
morning and the moment their commander saw the smoke arising 
from the fired bridges he formed battle line and charged forward 
on a run, returning as he went the enemy's galling fire the best 
he could. Three spans of the railroad bridge were consumed 
before his line reached it, but the wagon road bridge, though 
covered with smoke and flame, was 3'et passable, and while his 
battle line hotly engaged the enemy on the right and left, his 
reserve brigade charged over the burning structure leaving its 
hindermost regiment to extinguish the flames, and speedily routed 
the defending force, capturing a considerable number of prisoners 
and eighteen pieces of artillery 

From this point Barlow's division was dispatched to Farm- 
ville where they overtook a body of the enemy's cavalry burning 
bridges and covering a long wagon train that was moving toward 
Lynchburg. The sudden appearance of this gallant division, 
moving toward them at a double-quick caused these Confederate 
cavalrymen to destroy one hundred and thirty wagons and flee 
toward their main body 

From Highbridge Humphrey with the divisions of Miles and 
De Trobriand moved rapidly forward over the old stage road 
leading to Appomattox C. H. About five miles beyond the river 
our further advance in that direction was very seriously inter- 
rupted by the main body of Lee's army which had taken up and 
fortified a strong defensive position across our line of march. 

Both our divisions were hurried forward and prepared for a 
direct assault, but a careful survey of the enemy's position, caused 
that mode of procedure to be abandoned. The ground between 
the opposing lines was comparatively open, and ascended gradually 
from Humphrey's front, for a distance of a thousand yards to the 
base of a ridge which arose quite abruptly for fifty feet or more, 
and was crowned with earthworks thickly studded with cannon 
and manned by a compact battle line. 

When all was in readiness for the assault we rested on our 



OUE LAST ENGAGEMENT. ±±\ 

arms awaiting the arrival of Barlow's division, for the recall of 
which messengers had been dispatched. Presently something 
about the enemy's line led Humphrey to suppose Lee had re- 
sumed his retreat, and a force composed of several regiments from 
Miles' division was advanced for the purpose of learning what 
was really taking place. When within a, short distance of the 
Confederate works this reconnoitering force suddenly encountered 
a fire so terrific that six hundred of its number were speedily 
killed or wounded and the balance compelled to hasten back to 
our main line. 

Barlow did not arrive until the day was so far spent that it 
was deemed best to defer the contemplated assault until morning. 
It turned out that the holding of the enemy at that point by our 
threatened assault accomplished a result more desirable than 
would have been gained by his repulse. 

Lee during the night resumed his flight and at daybreak on 
the 8th Humphrey again took up the pursuit ; but somehow we 
did not march as rapidly as formerly ; and at three P. m. moved 
leisurely from the road and bivouacked. 

I will not attempt to trace in detail the movements of the 
other portions of Grant's army during the 7th and 8th. It is 
enough that while our corps rested on the old stage road awaiting 
the arrival of Barlow's division from its reconnoissance to Farm- 
ville, Sheridan's cavalry and the Sixth Corps had passed around 
the Confederate army, reached Appomattox station on the Lynch- 
burg railroad, five miles beyond Appomattox C. II., and extin- 
guished Lee's last hope of escape to the mountains by grasping 
from his vanguard four trains of cars laden with supplies for the 
hourly wasting remnant of his famishing army 

The evening and night of the 8th passed quietly away, but 
on the morning of the 9th the air seemed filled with wild rumors, 
indicating very plainly that the end for which we had sacrificed 
and endured so much — for which we had so long been marching, 
fighting and suffering, — was close at hand. 

At eight a.m. on the 9 th orders came to resume the advance, 
and for four hours we pressed steadily but slowly forward, not 



442 HISTORY OF THE 124TH NEW i'OBK VOLUNTEERS. 

after but up against our old adversary, now at bay, just ahead 
of us surrounded on all sides, with every avenue of escape 
cut off. 

At noon orders were passed down our column to move from 
the road and rest. Then came the report that Grant and Lee 
were together arranging terms for the surrender of the latter 
and his army 

A little later an aide from army headquarters came riding 
down the road reiterating the good news. As strange as it may 
seem, no one shouted, but instead many a stalwart fellow turned 
pale. All believed the report but yet wanted it officially con- 
firmed. Presently a wild shout was heard away off to our 
right, and as it grew louder and yet louder and came nearer and 
yet nearer, we all sprang to our feet, and rushed out to the 
edge of the road, and soon saw riding toward us a literally 
wild man with his bridle reins about his neck, waving in one 
hand his hat and in the other an empty bottle. It was the 
Adjutant-General of our division, Major Finklemeier. Every 
few rods he offered his empty bottle to some officer of his acquaint- 
ance and then raised it to his own lips. During the interven- 
ing time he kept shouting "' Clear the road. Colonels keep your 
men in line, keep your men in line — I drinks your health — clear 
the road," and the like. 

As the men fell back General Meade and staff appeared riding 
leisurelv along. Our old commander's face for once wore a smile. 
Behind him cheers like the mingling din of battle settled into 
one continuous roar, but in his front men held their breath until 
they heard from him the assurance that Lee and his followers 
had lain down their arms. 

The scene in our brigade after General Meade passed was 
absolutely indescribable. Men shouted until they could shout no 
longer, the air above us was for full half an hour filled with caps, 
coats, blankets, and knapsacks, and when at length the excite- 
ment subsided, the men threw themselves on the ground com- 
pletely exhausted. During the evening and following day the 
men stole through the woods in small squads to take a look at 



LEE SURRENDERS. 44;] 

our prisoners, and e;une back with their pockets filled with worth- 
less Confederate bank bills, which they began buying up for keep- 
sakes at the rate of one cent for a dollar ; but the price dropped 
so rapidly that one man came in with five thousand dollars 
in Confederate money which he had purchased for a one dollar 
Greenback. 



444 HISTORY OF THE 124TH NEW YOKE VOLUNTEERS. 



CHAPTER XXIII. 

Homeward "Bound. — Reception at Newbuegh.-— Mustered Out. 

THREE days after the surrender at Appomattox C. II. paroles 
were distributed to over twenty-six thousand Confederates, 
who forthwith started in little squads for their respective homes, 
and the grand army of Northern Virginia passed out of existence. 
The Union troops then moved leisurely back toward Richmond. 
On the march and during our halts many a. big-hearted Union 
soldier divided the contents of his haversack with some wander- 
ing Confederate ; and in hundreds of instances, on the nights of 
the 12th and 13th, the same blanket covered two brave soldiers 
— one dressed in blue, and the other in grey or butternut. 

The surrender of Lee's army was regarded by all as the end 
of the war, and the best of feeling prevailed between the rank and 
file of the victorious and vanquished armies, until the news of the 
assassination of President Lincoln reached us, when, while stag- 
gering under the terrible blow, these paroled prisoners disappeared 
as if by magical agency, and were seen no more. 

On the 14th our brigade reached Burkesville Junction, and 
was ordered to encamp there. We pitched our tents in a pine 
woods, and late in the afternoon a Confederate surgeon rode into 
our camp, and offered to sell, at a. moderate sum, a very fine horse 
he was riding. Dr. Edward C. Fox, who had just joined the 
regiment as assistant surgeon,* was in want of a horse, and when 
I retired at nine p. m., he was standing with this Confederate 
officer by one of our camp-fires, dickering for the latter's beast 

* Shortly after our arrival at Burkesville station the following named recruits 
joined the regiment: James Lerisie, Chester Clifford Nathan \V Foster, Robert 
Pooling. 



Homeward bound. 445 

and equipments. I had been on duty the previous night, and as 
circular orders, requiring the signature of regimental commanders, 
were brought around at night as frequently as in the daytime, I 
had requested acting Major Travis to spend the night in my tent, 
and receive, read, and sign my name to all such papers, that I 
might enjoy an undisturbed night's rest. 

About two A. M. however, I was aroused from my slumbers 
by Travis, and, on opening my eyes, saw him standing in front 
of me, with a candle in one hand and a paper in the other. His 
face was colorless, and in a tone of voice expressive of deep an- 
guish, he was repeating over and over again these words : " My 
God ! can it be, can it be ! " Grasping the paper, I read : 
"President Lincoln and Secretary Seward have been assassin- 
ated, and it is reported that General Grant also has been mur- 
dered." An orderly stood at the tent opening waiting for the 
circular telegram, and hastily affixing my name. I returned it to 
him. 

A few moments later I walked out in the open air trying to 
convince myself that it was all a dream. Everything about the 
camp was quiet, and the shelter tents of my men had an unusually 
uniform appearance ; but they were all empty, and the men with 
heavy hearts and speechless tongues, were gathered in groups 
about the smoldering camp-fires. They all seemed stupefied 
by the terrible news, and were anxiously awaiting the arrival of 
the next telegram. 

There was no more sleep for the army that night. I inquired 
for the Confederate officer who had come into our camp to try 
and sell his horse, and was glad to learn that he and every 
other wearer of grey or butternut, had fled. We had supposed 
our bloody work was at an end, that the rebellion had been 
crushed out, and that in a few days we would be at our homes 
again ; but the future was once more enveloped in a cloud of 
impenetrable darkness. On the morning of the 15th I rode 
over to division headquarters, and found General de Trobriand 
walking up and down under the tall pines in front of his tent, 
with his hands clasped behind him, as if in deep meditation. He 



440 HISTORY OP THE 124TE SEW YORK VOLUNTEERS. 

received me very cordially, but I was in nowise comforted or re- 
assured by bis allusions to the Reign of Terror in France, and his 
wild assertions that he firmly believed the war was to reopen and 
be henceforth prosecuted with the dagger and revolver rather than 
the rifle and cannon. 

But during the day telegrams w T ere received from Washington 
telling of the safety of Grant, and asserting that though the 
President would in all probability live but a few hours, Secretary 
Seward's injuries were not necessarily mortal. After the death 
of the great Lincoln, news of the surrender of one after another 
of the outlying posts and armies of the gasping Confederacy 
poured in upon us almost daily, and the spirit of anxiety and 
gloom which had settled down on the entire army gradually dis- 
appeared. On the first of May Meade's army took up its line of 
march for Washington. 

The Second and Sixth Corps started on different roads the 
same da}', and after a very foolish race from Burkesville Station 
to Richmond, a distance of fifty-five miles, moved through that 
city, and marched leisurely along over the often traveled high- 
ways through Fredericksburg, and on toward the National 
Capital, which they came in sight of about the middle of May 
The 124th pitched their tents once more near Minor's Hill, 
and within two miles of the field they had nearly three years 
before named Camp Cromwell, after their ever beloved and now 
lamented first Major. 

Then came the memorable two days' review at the national 
capital, of the united armies of the North and West, in which a 
hundred and fifty thousand bronzed veteran warriors took part; 
after which we prepared for our final muster out of the service, 
and return to our homes and the pursuits of civil life. 

On the 5th of June all was in readiness, and our last march- 
ing orders reached us. Halting a moment at division headquarters, 
we gave our old commander, General de Trobriand, three hearty 
cheers, and pushed on to Washington, where a train was found in 
waiting for us. After a delay of nearly a week on Hart's Island 
near New York city, we took the Mary Powell for Orange County, 



RECEPTION AT NEWBURGH. 447 

and I will let the reporters of the Ncwburgh daily papers tell the 
story of our reception. 

In referring to our expected arrival The Daily Union says : 
'■ This regiment of heroes, for such they have proved themselves 
to be, are expected home soon. They have made as noble a 
record as any regiment in the field. They have poured out their 
blood on dozens of historic fields and have a roll of heroic dead 
whose memory should be precious to Old Orange forever." 

The Neivburgh Daily Journal of June 14th contains the fol- 
lowing : 

"The long looked for unci impatiently expected One Hundred and 
Twenty-fourth Regiment has arrived at last. They left Hart's Island 
at eight o'clock on Tuesday morning June 13th, and arrived at Desbrosses 
street pier in New York, at about eleven o'clock the same morning. They 
were transferred during the afternoon to the Mary Powell, whose noble- 
hearted commander, Captain Anderson, had proffered to the 'Orange 
Blossoms ' a free passage to Xewburgh. The men were all furnished with 
arms, two-thirds of them having become possessors of their rifles by the 
payment to the Government of the nominal sum of six dollars each, and 
the remainder of the regiment being supplied through the kind forethought 
of Colonel Weygant, from the armories of the Orange County militia com- 
panies. In fact the Colonel has always seemed to care more for the welfare 
and comfort of his men than for his own, and it is no wonder that the boys 
almost idolize him. 

" When we stepped on board the Po»-eU at Cozzens' we found the most 
of the bovs crowded on the forward deck, seeming to enjoy themselves 
lmgelv in chatting and laughing, and pointing out to each other the fa- 
miliar features of the scenery along the river. Yet amid the general 
hilarity reigning on these bronzed and weather-beaten laces, the look of 
sadness and the tear of regret were occasionally seen— tokens of sorrow 
for the loss of brave comrades who had fallen in battle, and distress at 
the thought of meeting their bereaved relatives. 

"Going; around among the veterans we found the accomplished surgeon 
of the regiment, Dr. R. V K. Montfort, who is every inch a man, and a 
master iiihis profession— Captain Travis, the hearty, whole-souled 'Hank' 
—the indefatigable Colonel, who was everywhere at once and personally 
superintending everything, his presence acting like oil on the troubled 
waters — Privates Atwood, Post, Sagar, etc., etc. 

"When the Powell reached the Cornwall dock the enthusiasm of the 
boys began to be stirred afresh, the land looked unmistakably like that of 



448 HISTOEY OF THE 124T11 NEW YORK v OLUNTEEKS. 

Orange County. They now formed on each side, preparatory to the march 
on reaching Newburgh. When the cannon on the long dock began to roar 
the boys involuntarily set up a shout of delight, as if they recognized the 
tones of an old friend. But the belching, bellowing tube sent out no mis- 
siles of death among them this time ; nothing but the notes of a glorious 
welcome. The sight that greeted the eyes of those who were on the 
Powell as she neared our village can hardly ever be forgotten by them. 
Every place which commanded a view of the river seemed to be crowded 
with eager spectators. Flags were flying, bells ringing, cannon booming, 
innumerable handkerchiefs waving, and the whole village seemed bent on 
making itself seen and heard. The boys looked on all this display with 
undisguised delight, and gave vent to their feelings in repeated cheers. 
They were marched to the corner of First and Front streets, through the 
immense throng which had assembled to do them honor, and between open 
files of the firemen and Union League, who stood with heads uncovered. 
The procession was then formed in the following order : First the firemen ; 
then the trustees of the village and distinguished citizens; then the Union 
League accompanied by Eastman's splendid band, of Poughkeepsie ; then 
came the One Hundred and Twenty-fourth. The procession then moved 
as follows : up First street to Water ; up Water to South ; up South to 
Grand ; down Grand to Western avenue ; up Western avenue to Liberty ; 
down Liberty to Washington's Headquarters. Every flag was out all 
along the route, and the sight of the bullet-torn battle-flag of the regiment 
seemed to be regarded with intense interest. Before the boys got around 
the route they were well furnished with boutpiets from the hands of the fair 
ladies of Xewburgh. Every soldier had a bouquet in the muzzle of his 
rifle. What a change ! The weapons from which for the past three years 
had been issuing the death-dealing bullet, now decorated with the floral 
tribute of victory and peace. 

"The firemen and Leaguers, on reaching the Headquarters, formed in 
front of the stand in a hollow square, into which the regiment marched. 
The crowd on the ground was immense, entirely covering the lawn from 
the house to the eastern limits. There could not have been less than ten 
thousand persons on the grounds ; many having come in from the country, 
from the opposite side of the river, etc. After music by Eastman's band 
Judge Taylor addressed the regiment from the stand, in terms of welcome, 
as follows : 

JUDGE TAYLOR'S REMARKS. 

" Colonel Weygant and valiant soldiers of the One Hundred and Twenty- 
fourth Regiment, New York Volunteers : 
" On behalf of the citizens of the County of Orange, I bid you a warm 
and cordial welcome to your homes again. You come to us war-worn and 



KECEPTION AT NEWBUKGH. 449 

scar-worn from the hundred battles of the Army of the Potomac, and you 
come to us at a time, too, when peace rests upon our beloved' country 
With proud hearts we welcome you. But that pride is mingled some- 
what with sadness when we remember the thousand comrades whom you 
have left upon the battle-fields of the sunny South. We have with great 
interest read this history of your achievements during the past three years, 
but it has been saddened by the news of the fall of so many of your brave 
comrades. How our hearts were stricken with sorrow after the bloody 
battle of Gettysburg when we read of the decease of your gallant Colo- 
nel Ellis, in whose heart nothing was so dear as his ' Orange Blossoms.' 
And beside him a thousand have fallen to honor the ground of their 
bloody conflicts. 

" It is fit and proper that you should come to this sacred spot to lay 
down your arms ere you return to the pursuits of civil life. On this spot 
the Continental army of Washington was disbanded three-quarters of a 
century ago, and it is fitting that the Orange County soldiers should come 
here to lay down their arms no less honorable than those of the Continental 
army. Just under the foot of that flagstaff lie the remains of the last of 
Washington's life-guard. You know how we revered him while living and 
how we mourned him when we deposited his remains beneath that sod. 
You are the life-guards of the nation, and we look upon you with some- 
thing of the same reverence which we feel toward the fathers of our coun- 
try. And we cherish the memory of those who fought, bled, and died, and 
of those who survived the carnage of Fredericksburg, of Chancellorsville, 
of Beverly's Ford, of Gettysburg, of the Wilderness, of Spottsylvania, 
Boydton Road, of Sailor's Creek and the many battle-fields around Rich- 
mond. 

" But my friends you have come home to us having completed your 
work, and completed it nobly. To-day our beloved country, which for 
four long years has been threatened with destruction, is saved by the valor 
of your arms, and those glorious institutions which our fathers purchased 
for us with their blood, have been preserved, though threatened by traitor- 
ous hands and rebel foes. In accomplishing your work of preserving to 
us our dearly bought privileges and institutions, you have demonstrated 
to the world that there is no people on the face of this broad earth so strong, 
so noble, and so fortunate in having such a glorious record, as the people 
of America. [Applause.] 

"But, my fellow-citizens, you have accomplished another great object. 
The old Greek philosophers used to tell us that the greatest knowledge any 
man could have was to know himself. And we have demonstrated in this 
rebellion that the greatest power any nation can have is to govern and 
preserve itself. For three-quarters of a century we have been able to pro- 
tect ourselves against the world — against all foreign nations and against 



450 HISTORY OF THE 124TH NEW YORK VOLUNTEERS. 

the insults of all foreign powers. But our popular form of government 
was in a measure an experiment, and when traitorous hands and domestic 
foes threatened our institutions, it was the greatest peril in the history of 
our country. But you have demonstrated by the valor of your arms that 
the American people are able to govern themselves ; to preserve their na- 
tionality from domestic as well as from foreign foes, and we think with 
reason that we are the strongest nation upon the globe, because we have 
demonstrated that we have the greatest power. 

'* But beyond preserving to us the institutions which our fathers left us, 
yon have presented to us anew our glorious Union, more pure, more ele- 
vated, more perfect than before. [Applause.] You will have enabled us, 
on the ensuing Fourth of July — the anniversary of our national independ- 
ence — to celebrate the absolute fact that ' all men are born free and equal;' 
that the stars and stripes wave over nothing but freemen, [applause] — and 
that the contradiction which has existed for the last three-quarters of a 
century, that four millions of bondmen were held under the starry flag, no 
longer exists, but that all, of whatever color, birth, or nationality, when 
they come upon the soil of the United States, under the shadow of that 
glorious banner, are freemen, and entitled to its protection under all cir- 
cumstances. And I say that as you have, presented to us our glorious 
country purified, disenthralled and emancipated, you have demonstrated 
to the world the living fact, and everlasting truth, never again to be called 
in question, of the motto inscribed upon that glorious banner, 'Liberty and 
Union, now and forever, one and inseparable.'" [Tremendous applause.] 

" Colonel Weygant then responded to the speech of welcome with 
characteristic and soldier-like brevity." 

From Daily Union, June 14th : 

"Nearly three years ago Orange County was stirred to the heart's core 
by the departure of the gallant 124th. With full ranks and in the height 
of martial enthusiasm, the regiment went forth to the contest for home, 
couutiy, and flag. At their head the gallant Ellis, a very beau ideal of a 
soldier, marched, and with many another that came back, alas, to us no 
more. They left the hearths and homes of Orange for the field of war — 
great crowds assembled to see them leave, and many sad, as well as many 
hopeful hearts beheld them. 

The regiment had hardly reached the seat of war before it was in the 
fight, and from that day until the close of the contest,, throughout the most 
momentous campaigns, in the very heart of battle, wherever danger was 
to be met or honor won there was borne aloft, with steady hands and un- 
faltering hearts, the banner of the gallant 124th, the 'Orange Blossoms' 
as they were proudly named. On the fatal field of Chancellorsville the 
regiment suffered fearfully At Gettysburg the noble Ellis fell, and scarcely 



EECEPTION AT NEWBUBGH. 45! 

a truer or a braver soldier has the Republic lost than he. Xewburgh lost 
many of her sons on those sanguinary fields. But still the banne/of the 
124th was borne along, and Cummins and Weygant upheld with honor the 
command of the regiment. So through the advance on Richmond, the 
bloody siege of Petersburg, and all the impressive movements of the war 
the regiment went, always winning new laurels and putting new names of 
unfading glory on its imperishable flag. Of such a record may not New 
burgh and the whole district well be proud ? 

" Last night the regiment returned, and Xewburgh sprang with hungry 
heart to meet its brave defenders. * * * There was but little attempt 
at organized reception, but the popular ovation was all the more enthusi- 
astic, hearty, and sincere. 

" From five o'clock the streets were lined with eager, happy faces. The 
ladies were almost in the majority ; most of them carried some pretty badge 
of welcome, and among the most fitting were beautiful bouquets. Banners 
and appropriate devices were hung up, and from six o'clock nearly every 
place of business was closed. 

" At half-past five the bells of all the churches commenced a merry peal. 
At a quarter before seven a salute was fired from long dock, and the first 
discharge announced to the eager thousands the approach of the Mary 
Powell. At this time the excitement was intense — every spot was thronged 
with eager multitudes, and since the departure of our regiments, no such 
scene has been witnessed in Xewburgh. 

"At seven o'clock the guns on the dock thundered forth the Mary 
PoioelVs arrival ; and very soon the brave and bronzed veterans, battle-worn 
and scathed, the sunlight of many a bloody field upon their iaces, stood 
upon the shore. Slowly they filed past ; and now the people's enthusiasm 
burst out over all bounds. Our scanty police and watch force were swal- 
lowed up and overwhelmed, and the eager multitudes seemed as if they 
would throw themselves upon the soldiers. On they marched with steady 
resistless step ; their faces and uniforms telling of the fearful scenes they 
had passed through ! Their battle-flag as it was borne aloft awakened 
intense emotion, hardly a strip of its frayed and bullet-torn silk was left ; 
yet it was more precious to the men, and to the people, than if it were 
made of cloth of gold. Those shot-pierced, and smoke-begrimed frag- 
ments have bound the shattered Union together in ties of blood ; and it is 
for statesmen to complete the soldier's work, with bands of unrusting 
gold. 

"The firemen had the right of the line, and made a very fine appear- 
ance ; they were warmly received by the people. But the veterans lit up 
the hearts of the multitude again, and round after round of cheers went 
before, around and behind them as they passed. Words, flags and wreaths 
of welcome lined the streets. Every spot, from roof to curbstone, and 



452 HISTORY OE THE 124TK NEW YORK VOLUNTEERS. 

even to the outer edges of the passing regiment, was densely packed. 
The ladies bloomed out of the buildings wherever a window opening could 
be found, they poured a grateful tribute of flowers on the regiment; and 
very soon the grim -muzzle of nearly every musket bore its beautiful bunch 
of flowers — a touching illustration of the blossoms of Peace, growing out 
of the very mouths of War. Tins distribution was made by a flower bri- 
gade of young ladies led by Miss Travis. This brigade was organized by 
Mr. J. T. Sloan. 

"There were to many longing eyes, sad gaps of ghost-like memories in 
that marching line — the places' that were filled before by the 'unreturning 
brave.' Those who had gone home before on endless furloughs ; furloughs 
sealed in their own brave blood by the mortal hand of Death. Oh, New- 
burgh, Orange, Sullivan, what ot these? What of the orphaned hearts; 
the widowed ; the childless ; to whom the. pageant of last night brought 
only grief renewed? What of those still left among us, for whom the 
peerless tones of the lost one's greetings shall sound on earth no more? 

"Many who expected to welcome their brave friends home, learned for 
the first time of their death ; and others were left behind in hospital. Of 
the original regiment only one hundred and thirty returned. Company C 
was mostly a Newburgh company — only six of its original members came 
home. It was first commanded by Captain Cromwell, then Captain Silli- 
man, then Captain Finnegan, and now by Captain Thomas Taft. Its first 
three captains all fell. Mr. Thomas Foley had three sons in Company C, 
every one of whom fell in the war." 



'■'■June 15. — During yesterday the streets were alive with the members 
of the 124th, waiting patiently and good-humoredly for their pay Some 
unlucky knot of red tape had caught the paymaster by the elbow and kept 
him from making the needful disbursements. The men conducted them- 
selves peaceably and bore the delay with soldier-like patience, though many 
of them were kept from home while within a few miles of it, after an ab- 
sence of years. 

"June 16. — The paymaster having arrived and extricated himself from 
the meshes of red tape which enveloped him, commenced paying off the 
soldiers of the 124th last night. This was a much needed relief to the men, 
who had been left to wander around since their arrival as they could. They 
bore the long delay with true soldier-like patience, although one would oc- 
casionally break into one of those barriers of polite conversation called a 
dam. A body of civilians would not have waited with the same patience 
for the pay these soldiers have earned so nobly — in fact to pay them ade- 
quately for the services they have rendered the country, will never be in 
the power of the people.''' 



INDEX TO PERSONAL MENTION 



-op- 



MEMBERS OF THE 12 km REGIMENT, N. Y S. V 



Acker, Charles H 21, 93 

Acker, Jonathan 26, 93 

Ackerman, Curtis 35, 99, 174 

Ackerman, Daniel 19, 96, 152, 284, 352, 480 

Ackerman, John H 21 

Adams, George W 20, 95, 127, 253 

Adams, Judson P 20.98, 174. 233 

Adams, Lswis D 20* 

Aisale Casper 394 

Allen, Cornelius S 22,97, 174. 187 

Allen, Edmund F 21, 92 

Allington, Tnomas R 20, 96, 174. 283 

Allison, Cornelius 21, 02 

Alwood, Joseph S 22. 261 

Ammerman, William W 23, 98, 174, 232. 

Anderson, Clement B 20, 96, 127, 268 

Anderson, John 395, 397 

Appleman. Henry B 20, 96. 267 

Arcularius, Henry 19, 96, 127, 284, 331. 339 

Arden, G. De Peyster 17, 18, 94 

Armstrong, Andrew 24, 98, 174. 283. 410 

Ashley, Joseph 21 

Ashman, Robert A 19, 96, 174, 284. 339 

Avery, Charles A 19. 92 

Babcock, Charles 266. 232 

Babcock, Daniel 23, 92. 286, 232. 339, 40 ^ 

Babcock, David (Co. B) 28. 92 

Babcock, David (Co. K) 395 

Babcock, George 23.268 

Babcock, Matthew 206. 282. 347. 352 

Bahrman, E. Morris 21. 267 

Bailey, William W 26.+ 99. 129. 269 

Baird, Rensalaer, D 22, 97, 128, 174. 282. 3J2 

Baker, Daniel W 24. 98. 174. 282 

Baker, Henry C 26. 99, 174 

Baker, James J 20. 93 

Baker, Thomas H 24, 98, 128. 268 

Balmos, William. 20, 96. 174. 283 

Banker, John R 92* 

Barkley, Alfred S 20. 96. 127 

Barnes, David P 28. 94, 285 

Barnes, James H 23. 98. 128 

Barnhart, Ira 22. 93 

Barrett, David D 266, 284, 339 

Barrett, David, jr 267. 283 

Barrett, James S 22. 97, 128, 174, 285 

Barltson, Charles 394 

Barton, Alanson H 23. 92 

Barton, Walter 27, 100, 174, 186 

Bateman, Emanuel 395 

Baxter, Lewis W 25, 99, 283, 339 

Baxter, Whitmore 22, 94. 268 

Beard, John E 395 

Beakes, James A 25, 99, 174. 215 

Beakes, Adam W 25, 99, 128, 268 

Beck, Jacob 394 

Becraft, William L 21, 97, 127, 268 



Bellis, Simon 28, 100, 282, 301 

Bellows, Abram 19, 97, 127, 267 

B "-.ledict, Francis A 21, 97, 127 

Benedict, James W., 21, 97, 131, 147, 174, 249, 263, 

284, 330, 339. 380, 386, 389, 392, 404, 410. 

Benjamin, Charles 27, 100, 174, 186 

Benjamin, Elisha B 28. 100, 267 

Benjamin, Gran*"B 27, 100, 129, 379, 391 

Benjamin, William H., 27, 100, 174, 283, 350, 352, 

410. 

Benjamin, Wells 21, 97, 174, 285 

Bennett, Garret H 27, 100, 174, 186, 408 

Bennett, William 395 

Benton, James A 395, 439 

Bernier. Peter F 27, 268 

Bemer. Charles H 407 

Bertholf, Gilliam 21, 97, 174, 215, 216 

Bertholf, James H 21, 92 

Beteker, Wi